A woman in the Kansas City area is having a really hard time getting out of jury duty thanks to one judge’s seeming obstinance and Missouri’s arms-crossed, brows-furrowed stance on exempting jurors who breastfeed and don’t have adequate childcare options.
The impossibly-named Laura Trickle from Jackson County, Missouri ran afoul of Judge Marco Roldan after responding to an Aug. 9 jury summons by informing court officials that she was breastfeeding and wouldn’t be taking part in the civic duty festivities. According to a court order, she “willfully and contemptuously appeared for jury service with her child and no one to care for the child” on Sept. 3. Apparently, the breastfeeding excuse doesn’t play too well in Missouri, which, unlike its freewheeling, braless neighbor Kansas, doesn’t yet exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty (according to the Kansas City Star, a Missouri state Senator has recently introduced breastfeeding exemption legislation).
Trickle’s current stand-off with the Jackson County court could prove pretty inconvenient — skipping jury duty comes with a possible contempt of court charge, a maximum fine of $500, and possible jail time. Without addressing Trickle’s peculiar case, Judge Roldan, sounding super-duper sympathetic, said Jackson County mothers have only two choices if they really want to keep with the breastfeeding program during the summons: they can pump in a private room and bottle-feed their child later, or they can bring a caregiver to watch the child in the courtroom and then feed the child in a private room. Both of these, according to Trickle, are non-options: her son Axel “doesn’t take a bottle,” and she has no childcare options (also, we should all just take a moment to ponder over the fate of Axel Trickle, who, with such a lyrical name, will either grow into a super-dorky adult whose greatest achievement will be memorizing every Simpsons episode, or the frontman to a heavy metal revival band).
It would seem that Roldan is being a stickler just ‘cause — he told the Star that “50 percent [of potential jurors] are not even going to go upstairs to a case,” but he likes to keep potential jurors available because he is a self-righteous Aaron Sorkin character who likes to monologue about American civic duty. Or something. Unsurprisingly, Trickle’s difficulties have attracted attention from Missouri politicians and the La Leche League, an international organization that promotes breastfeeding.
A Missouri spokeswoman for the League, Nikki Simmons, seemed to think that reversing Missouri’s intransigence on the breastfeeding-juror issue might be trickier than it initially appears, since lawmakers considering breastfeeding mothers as exempt would most likely also have to consider exempting summoned citizens who care for the elderly or infirm. The best thing breastfeeding moms in Missouri can do, Simmons told the Star, is not go immediately on the defensive, but wander down to the court and have a gentle conversation with a gatekeeper. Some judges can be finger-wagging jerks, and often demand “concrete” reasons for exemption.
Image via Getty