Kansas Hall of SHAME! p1

(Last updated September 1, 2005)

 

 

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If you have been mistreated by the Courts in this way, or if you know of others that have, please click on the letter to e-mail me and share your story!

Kansas

Margaret Devoss, a full-time mother of 6 was called for jury duty in 2000.  Even though she was nursing a 5-week-old baby and had other young children, she was NOT excused!  This is her story:

“This whole thing started a couple of years ago when I was called for jury duty.  I filled out the juror form and asked to be excused because I was the full time care provider for my children and was breastfeeding my 5-week-old babyI was shocked to find out neither was a reason to be excused!

 

The basics of what happened is I explained I did not have any family nearby who could help care for my children, I have never left my baby with a sitter, my toddler had only been away from me for an occasional couple of hours.  I explained my breastfed baby did not take a bottle, nursed very frequently, and I did not have a breast pump.  I offered to have my doctor write a letter to verify I was breastfeeding.

The court employees told me a lot of women pump their breasts, give their babies bottles, and put their babies in day care, and I could too!  They told me I could call our county’s child care referral service to find a babysitter.  They said if I didn’t come I would be in contempt!

 

When I said I would come but would need to bring my little ones with me, I was told bringing my children could also cause me to be held in contempt (of court).  So I replied, “That certainly would make an interesting headline!”

Even when I spoke with the judge, he told me they can’t always accommodate people who live ‘alternative lifestyles’ such as mine!!!

 

Eventually, I was granted a one-time only one-year deferral.  I explained I would still be breastfeeding in a year and my little ones would still be too young to leave.

 

...I was really hacked and wrote members of my state’s House and Senate Judiciary Committees asking for legislation to excuse from jury duty breastfeeding mothers and a parent who is providing full time care to his/her young child.

 

Kansas Rep. Clark Shultz, a father of 5, saw merit in my requests and introduced HB 2778 (postponing a breastfeeding mother from jury duty until she is no longer breast feeding) and HB 2789 (excusing from jury duty a parent who is not employed full-time and is responsible for the daily care of a child under 6 years of age) during the 2002 Session”.

 

Unfortunately, both bills were left to languish in the House Judiciary Committee, where they died.

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