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(Last updated June 16, 2005)

We need your help to enact

family friendly jury duty for Massachusetts!    Page 3

History of  Massachusetts Senate Bill 2225

History of this legislation:  This bill was filed by Senator Steven Panagiotakos- D, First Middlesex, at the request of Elizabeth S. Bridge.    

 

Elizabeth (Betsy) was called for jury duty in 2001.  At that time she was caring for her 1-1/2-year-old daughter and expecting her second child.  She assumed that her status as a full-time parent would give her the option for a disqualification, and she was stunned to see it not listed on her juror summons form.  She also felt that being so pregnant (7 months along) was not a good situation to be in while serving on a jury, but to her dismay, she found out that that was not reason for a disqualification, either. 

 

Still thinking that she must be mis-understanding something, she called the Office of Jury Commission.  The person she spoke with there said that all he could do was change her date.  She explained that she was pregnant, and that changing the date would only make the problem worse for then she would have 2 children left without care.  He then asked if she would be nursing.  Elizabeth replied yes.  The court employee postponed Betsy’s jury date and told her to have her pediatrician fax a note stating that she was nursing her infant, as this would exempt her for this particular court. 

 

After her stressful experience, Betsy contacted several stay-at-home mothers to see if they had any personal experiences with this issue.  Those that had received Summons since becoming full-time parents, had all reported great anxiety over the situation.  Most made a plea to the judge on the day of their summons to be let go on a hardship.

In addition to speaking with other mothers, Betsy got in touch with Family and Home Network’s Executive Director, Cathy Meyers to get some more feedback and information on this matter.

 

After the birth of her youngest daughter, Betsy still felt she should work on changing the Massachusetts jury duty laws so they would become more friendly to those caring for children full-time.  In January 2003, Betsy wrote several letters, included newspaper articles on this issue, and sent them out to a couple of  Massachusetts senators. 

Sen. Panagiotako’s office quickly responded and said he would support her on this proposal.

 

Although SB 2225 failed to pass, the family friendly jury duty initiative is far from dead.  Another FFJD bill similar to SB 2225 is planned to be introduced in the Massachusetts legislature in the near future.

 

For more details about ongoing efforts to enact family friendly jury duty in Massachusetts, please contact: 

Elizabeth S. Bridge at ebridge@charter.net

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