Breast-Feeding Mom on Jury Duty Charged with Contempt of Court
byKaitlin StanfordOct 23, 2013
Getting out of jury duty seems to be just about the hardest thing to do ever. And it always seems to come at the worst time. But getting your summons right after you've had your first baby? When you're exclusively breast-feeding? When you have no other form of child care besides yourself?
Surely you'd deserve a free pass in that case, right? Apparently, not if you live in Missouri. While many U.S. states do grant exemptions for new moms who are breast-feeding, the "show-me" state is not one of them. And that wasn't such good news for mom Laura Trickle, who recently tried to convince the court that now was not a good time for her to sit on a jury, since her 7-month-old son Axel exclusively breast-feeds and can't take a bottle.
But her plea fell on deaf ears, and she was forced to go in for jury selection. Without any other form of child care, though, she brought along little Axel and attempted to explain her predicament in person to the judge.
That did not go over well, either. According to Trickle, the judge gave her two options.
"[The first option was that] I would be able to pump on breaks," she told KCTV. "Unfortunately Axel doesn't take a bottle, so that was not an option for us. The other option was to have someone stay with me all day and then be able to nurse on breaks. But since I'm a stay-at-home mom, we don't have child care."
When Trickle failed to comply with either of those options, she was slapped with a charge of contempt of court—which comes with a hefty $500 fine.
"It has been really scary," she said. "It has been very stressful for our family."
While Trickle now has a court date set for October 24, she hopes some awareness of her case will help make a change for other breast-feeding moms. And it looks like she has some great timing—a St. Joseph senator is already working on a bill to excuse breast-feeding mothers from jury duty in Missouri, just as it does in 12 other U.S. states.
"It is not right. It is not fair for us," Trickle said of her case. "We're just trying to do what is best for our children, and we shouldn't be penalized and fined for it."