New Mexico Hall of Shame

(Last updated March 5, 2005)

New Mexico

Christina Parlapiano is a mother and wife who left a career as a financial adviser to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom to her infant son, Jack.  One week prior to the birth of her son, she received a jury summons from the Metropolitan Court, District 15, Bernalillo County, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This is her story:

 

(In the summer of 2004), I received my first jury summons asking me to report to duty in a couple of weeks, at which point my son Jack would only be 3 weeks old.  I asked and was granted a postponement.  Four months later, I received my second summons.  Again I asked and was granted a postponement until December, at which time I was told that they could no longer grant me any more postponements.

 

I decided to make a trip down to the courthouse to speak with the Jury Summons clerks.  I felt that if they were able put a face to a name and I was able to explain my situation, they would understand I wasn’t trying to “Get out” of jury duty, but that I was asking for them to postpone me until Jack was a bit older and/or my child care situation changed.  I explained that I was a stay at home nursing mother and Jack had never been to daycare.  They told me that childcare is not a valid excuse from jury duty and by the way did I own a breast pump? 

 

They ended up extending my service, and told me that they had done me a favor because they normally only allow 6 months for postponement and I received 9 months. 

How “gracious” of them.  How can the State of New Mexico expect a full-time parent to give up her baby to perform her civic duty?

 

I decided that I had to go higher up.  I contacted everyone including court administrators, the Administration Office of the Courts in Santa Fe, and the Jury Management Division Director. I was repeatedly told that although the court understood my situation this was the law and I still had to report. 

 

I decided to do some investigating into this situation, and found out that New Mexico was one of only 5 states in this nation that currently does not have family friendly jury duty laws!

In summation, the state is telling people, “I’m sorry.  Your family comes second.”

 

After acquiring this information, I wrote a letter to the Judge.  I again explained my situation, and told her about the information I had gathered about jury duty laws. 

 

I received the judge’s response the Friday evening before my duty was to commence. 

She told me that “people everywhere are making sacrifices to preserve this wonderful system of ours… men and women are giving their lives in Iraq…and how I had missed the big picture.” 

I’m not minimizing what the men and women in our armed service sacrifice for our country everyday, but they volunteered for service, I was essentially drafted

(Doesn’t it appear that the judge missed “the big picture”??  Christina wasn’t the only one “drafted” - what about her breastfeeding infant son, Jack?! -- ed.)

 

Source:  “Mom inspires bill limiting jury duty for caregivers” by Shea Andersen, The Albuquerque Tribune, January 31, 2005 ; Personal e-mail to Kathye Schattner, dated January 26, 2005

Good News!  Christina has contacted her senator, Sen. Mark Boitano, and he has agreed to sponsor a family friendly jury duty bill --  New Mexico Senate Bill 288. 

For more information about SB 288, click here 

 

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