No jury duty for nursing moms

September 2, 2008
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According to a recent article from the National Law Journal, more and more states have passed laws exempting nursing mothers from jury service. Indiana isn’t one of those states, although we have a new law in effect regarding nursing mothers at work. Under Indiana Jury Rule 7, judges can authorize the deferral of jury duty if the person summoned can show a hardship, extreme inconvenience, or necessity for not serving. Also, each county may have different explanations of who can be excused from jury duty – yet no county specifies nursing mothers.

So, it’s up to the judge to decide whether an Indiana mother who is nursing is experiencing a hardship, inconvenience, or necessity to be excused. If it’s an understanding judge, he or she may excuse the mother and defer her service, and a law exempting nursing mothers would be unnecessary. However, if the judge doesn’t view breastfeeding as a necessity or extreme inconvenience, perhaps a law would be a good idea. But whether nursing is a valid excuse to defer jury duty is up to the General Assembly to decide.

Some women could make a good argument that breastfeeding children is a necessity and should be a valid reason to defer jury duty, especially if they end up on a jury that is sequestered for days or even weeks. However, some women are able to breastfeed their children with little interruption in their lives outside of the home. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, recently told People magazine that she finds time to breastfeed in the middle of the night. If a politician traveling around the country campaigning can still nurse, can’t a mother who has been called to serve on a jury?
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  • Trying to balance breastfeeding with jury duty is a challenge I doubt even Sarah Palin would be able to handle!
    For starters, most courts would not allow an infant to be present with the mother. This leaves the option of pumping. Pray tell, WHERE would a mother be able to pump, given that courtrooms are not set up to accommodate nursing mothers as many workplaces are. She would most likely have to pump in a restroom... How many of you would like to eat a meal prepared in a BATHROOM?!
    In addition to the constraints of finding a place to nurse, another problem arises with timing. What happens when a mother needs to nurse and can\'t? She could end up leaking, causing her embarassment, or worse, she could end up in pain. Nursing women who can\'t express their milk when needed often get serious infections in their breasts and must seek medical treatment.
    Bottom line, then, WHY put a mother and baby through all of this when she can be allowed serve on a jury at a later time? Do the courts really want a nursing mother in their juries when they may be in pain?
    Also, Is it appropriate that Indiana state law currently allows deferral of nursing mothers to be decided by the whim of a jury clerk or a judge who may or may not have any knowledge in this area that is not in their primary field of knowledge...

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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