Friday, May 25, 2012

Jury Duty and Breastfeeding

© Amanda Walley 2012

"To whom it may concern:

Did you know that only 12 states currently have family friendly jury duty laws that allow exclusively breastfeeding mothers to be excused from jury duty? Currently my state, Washington, is not one of them. Now in three weeks I am being forced to either leave my 5 month old, exclusively breastfed son to report for jury duty, or face criminal charges. What I am asking for, is publicity and awareness. If more people know that this is a problem, we can stand together to get it changed. A facebook page was just created to keep people in the loop as to what is happening, and to help come up with ideas to get Washington some family friendly jury duty laws. 

Please consider sharing this page on your page, blog and/or website.

Here is my story:

I received my first jury summons in my first trimester of pregnancy while on modified bed rest. I replied to the letter, and they granted a deferral. I got my second summons when the baby was less than 2 weeks old. They granted another referral, but only until May. (Baby was born at the very end of November). I called and was then told I was out of deferrals and had no choice but to appear. I explained that I would still be exclusively breastfeeding, and baby would be under six months old. She told me that she was sorry, the issue was out of her control and I had no other options. She told me I have to show up on the day, and speak with the judge, and the judge would "likely" excuse me. I asked if I could bring my infant son with me, since he cannot be away from me. She said no, and if I did I could be charged with contempt. I asked what would happen if I don't go and she said I would be charged with a misdemeanor.

I just received my new summons last week. The baby will be 5 1/2 months old on the day I am supposed to report. Even if I were to go in and speak with the judge, it will still take several hours of being away from the baby. He has never had pumped milk, formula, or even a pacifier. He is 100% exclusively breastfed. My body doesnt respond well to pumping, and I get next to no milk out. He eats every 2 hours, often times more (even at night). Thats way too long for him to go without nursing. I am in no way trying to "get out" of anything. I will gladly do my civic duties. I just don't think it is right to put me in a position to have to choose to do my civic duties, be charged/treated as a criminal OR care for my infant son. I will not be breast feeding forever, and will report for jury duty with bells on when it does not interfere with the well being of my children.

Thank you so much for your time.

Amanda Walley"


  1. I don't think this is right!

    Several years back I was summoned. I had a foster child with severe attachment issues who required a very stable environment 24/7 we were knee deep in bonding therapy with him at the time and his therapist wrote a letter I could submit explaining this.
    I was told it didn't qualify as a reason and was required to show.
    I went but ended up completely freaking out - my nerves were shot and the wait time and masses of people in a small room got to me so I left. Never did hear anything about it...

  2. I'd have someone go with me to sit outside the room with the baby and surely they wouldn't let a hungry crying baby not have his mama right next door and they'd dismiss her?




    Wow...what an eye opener...
    Congrats to the WA momma for standing strong for her beliefs! AND also for TRUE EXCLUSIVITY!! (no bottles/no pacifier!!!)

  5. Most states have an automatic exemption for those who are the care provider for young children, regardless of breastfeeding status. Is this exemption not available in Washington either?