Laura Trickle said that when she received her summons for service in August, she notified Jackson County court officials that she was nursing her son Axel. In January, her service was postponed because she was pregnant.
Court officials gave Trickle two options: to arrange child care or to bring someone along who could care for the child on the day of her summons.
Trickle instead appeared in court on September 3 with her seven-month-old son, hoping to get an exemption.
Instead, the judge offered her two more options during the jury selection.
“I would be able to pump on breaks. 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 childcare,” Trickle told Kansas City’s KCTV5 news.
Having turned down both of the judge’s options, Trickle is now facing contempt charges and up to a $500 fine at her hearing this Thursday. Presiding Judge Marco Roldan said that she “willfully and contemptuously appeared for jury service with her child and no one to care for the child.”
“It is not right. It is not fair for us. We’re just trying to do what is best for our children, and we shouldn’t be penalized and fined for it,” Trickle countered.
Judge Roldan explained that jurors can be excused from service in a situation of “undue or extreme physical or financial hardship,” claiming that he has exercised that discretion.
The Missouri Senate is now trying to introduce an exemption for breastfeeding mothers from serving on jury duty.
“Babies who are breastfed generally are healthier, are less likely to have certain health problems and will cost the state less resources,” state Senator Rob Schaaf said, as quoted by AP. “Jury duty is a roadblock to that.”