Meet Laura Trickle, a suburban mother in the Kansas City area.
On Sept. 3, Trickle appeared for jury duty in Jackson County court with her now seven-month-old infant, Axel, in tow. Trickle was naively hoping maybe the judge would cut her a break.
“I’ve never even had a speeding ticket, so I have zero experience with legal issues,” she told local CBS affiliate KCTV.
Instead, throwing good sense and practicality to the wind, the judge gave Trickle a stark choice.
“I would be able to pump on breaks. Unfortunately Axel doesn’t take a bottle, so that was not an option for us,” Trickle told the station. “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.”
Unable to accept either alternative, the young mom apparently elected to take care of her child instead of sitting in a jury pool.
“The issue is the timing,” she told The Kansas City Star.”I just can’t do it right now.”
For this grievous offense, Trickle then received a court order proclaiming that she “willfully and contemptuously appeared for jury service with her child and no one to care for the child.”
Her new day in court — as a defendant — is set for Thursday at the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown Kansas City.
In Missouri, people who skip jury duty face a charge of contempt of court as well the possibility of arrest and a fine of up to $500.
It’s not clear which judge Trickle faced on Sept. 3, or which judge issued the court order, or which judge she will face on Thursday.
Jackson County presiding judge Marco Roldan told The Star that he takes the challenges of all jurors into account.
“I am very protective of our jurors,” Roldan told the paper. “They are the foundation of our system.”
Roldan observed that Missouri law permits judges to exempt jurors who face “an undue or extreme physical or financial hardship.”
The Star notes that 11 states excuse mothers who are breastfeeding from jury duty. Neighboring Kansas is among them.
State lawmaker Rob Schaaf has introduced legislation that would exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. The Republican is also a doctor.
“Babies who are breastfed generally are healthier, are less likely to have certain health problems and will cost the state less resources,” Schaaf told The Star. “Jury duty is a roadblock to that.”