History of Kentucky's family friendly jury duty initiatives

 

Family Friendly Jury Duty legislation was proposals have been considered by the Kentucky General Assembly from 2000 to 2007.

Below is a brief history of this legislation:
Although Family Friendly Jury Duty legislation, filed by Sen. Tom Buford (R-Jessamine) and Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (R-Lexington), passed by a wide margin in 2000 (Senate Bill 32) and 2001 (Senate Bill 43) in the Kentucky Senate, it died both times in the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee, having never received a hearing.
Many Kentucky House members supported the bill, but they were never given a chance to vote on it!

In March 2003, a Senate Floor Amendment containing the language of the Family Friendly Jury Duty bill was filed to House Bill 380 (an ACT relating to Family Courts) by Sen. Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville). Nearly all Senators supported this amendment. The bill with amendment was about to pass when the Senate leadership ruled that the amendment was not germane on a minor technicality, and it was removed from House Bill 380.

In March 2004, the “Family Friendly Jury Duty” language was again attached as a floor amendment this time to Senate Bill 251 (an ACT relating to juries) while this bill was being voted on in the House. Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington) filed the amendment. Unfortunately, the Kentucky House did not pass the bill with the family friendly jury duty amendment and the session ended before any other action could be considered.

Family Friendly Jury Duty legislation was filed for the 2005 session of Kentucky’s General Assembly as House Bill 228, co-sponsored by Rep. Robert Damron (D-Jessamine) and Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington).
Although the bill received numerous endorsements from major organizations, positive input from Kentucky citizens, and support from many fellow legislators, it was stalled by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, who refused to give the bill a hearing.

In January 2006, Rep. Damron and Rep. Westrom filed HB 107, a 'Family Friendly Jury Duty' bill similar to the previous session’s HB 228. This legislation also did not receive a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman.

In an attempt to get some form of Family Friendly Jury Duty legislation adopted during the 2006 session, both Representatives Susan Westrom and Stan Lee (R-Lexington) filed a House Floor Amendment that would have allowed breastfeeding mothers to be excused from jury duty to SB 106 (an ACT relating to breastfeeding).   Inexplicably, the amendment was ruled “not germane”, despite several loud outcries of support by the House members on the floor!

In 2007, identical bills House Bill 241 and Senate Bill 111 were filed in both the Kentucky House and Senate, respectively, to require a judge to excuse a mother who is breast-feeding a child or expressing breast milk for a child from jury service.

On March 5, 2007, Senate Bill 111 was passed unanimously by the Kentucky Senate.  The bill was sent over to the Kentucky House of Representatives, where it was assigned to the Health and Welfare Committee on March 2, 2007.  The bill was heard and PASSED by the House Health and Welfare Committee on March 8, 2007. 
On March 12, 2007, Senate Bill 111 was passed by the Kentucky House, 98-0
The bill was signed into law by Governor Ernie Fletcher on March 23, 2007.  

Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Tom Buford and Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr - sponsors of Kentucky's family friendly jury duty legislation -- and Rep. Susan Westrom, Rep. Bob Damron, and Rep. Tom Burch who helped get this legislation through the KY House, nursing mothers in Kentucky can now postpone their civic duty, if they so choose, until they are no longer nursing!


Although it is great that Kentucky now has a family friendly jury duty law that protects breastfeeding mothers and their children, there are still other citizens in Kentucky who could also benefit from family friendly jury duty legislation.  

Kentucky citizens who are  parents/guardians caring for a young child, or caregivers of an elderly or disabled relative have been forced to serve on a jury, despite their essential obligations to their families. While there are Kentucky courts that do accommodate these citizens, others do not since there is no standard policy which addresses the special needs of these jurors.  We would like to expand the family friendly jury duty legislation in the near future to include family caregivers.

To help support expanded family friendly jury duty  legislation,
click here to see what you can do.
 


As an aside, we’re thrilled to hear about the many other states that have recently enacted family friendly jury duty legislation. Many citizens have been inspired by this website to get involved in the legislative process and have successfully passed family friendly jury duty laws in their own states. (Please see the current  list of states that already have or are considering enacting family friendly jury duty legislation).


Sen. Tom Buford


Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr

 

 
 


Rep. Susan Westrom

 


Rep. Robert Damron

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Rep. Tom Burch
Chairman, House Health & Welfare


 

Last updated Friday April 13, 2007

   

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Kentucky needs FFJD laws!

Kentucky's FFJD initiatives Contact your KY state legislator the easy way! What to say to your Kentucky state legislator Contact your KY state legislator by mail
Sample letter What NOT to say! Enlist support from other Kentuckians! History of KY's FFJD initiatives What are the U.S. District Courts? FFJD in KY's Federal Courts
How to get FFJD policies in KY's Eastern District Court Sample letter to KY's Chief Federal Judge

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