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Judge delays fining breast-feeding mom to give lawmakers time to act

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Laura Trickle, of Lee's Summit, she had no other choice but to bring her 7-month-old son, Axel, to jury duty last month. Laura Trickle, of Lee's Summit, she had no other choice but to bring her 7-month-old son, Axel, to jury duty last month.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A Jackson County judge has taken a breast-feeding mother's case under advisement pending the end of an upcoming Missouri legislative session before holding her in contempt for not fulfilling jury duty.

Judge Marco Roldan said Thursday that there is active discussion of a proposed bill that would exempt breast-feeding mothers from jury duty. He wants to see what, if any, action the Missouri General Assembly will take.

Lawmakers begin meeting in January and conclude their sessions before Memorial Day weekend. Delaying the hearing until June 6 will give Roldan a chance to see what action lawmakers choose to take.

Laura Trickle, of Lee's Summit, said she had no other choice but to bring her 7-month-old son, Axel, to jury duty last month.

Trickle claimed there was no one to watch him because she is a stay-at-home mom and doesn't have childcare. She said her son doesn't take a bottle so she has to be around to feed him. 

Roldan is considering whether Trickle should be found in contempt of court. If he does, she faces a $500 fine, which some women's groups have said they would pay.

Trickle said she is glad Roldan delayed a decision.

"I appreciate what he did in holding off until the next vote. He has to do what is best by the law. That is his job. It's the law that needs to be changed," she said. "When diapers and laws stink, change them!"

She said it's not like she skipped answering her summons to jury duty.

"I answered my summons. I let them know ahead of time and I came," she said. "It's not like I just didn't show up."

She said neither she nor her boyfriend are from the Kansas City area, so they didn't have anyone to call on to watch Axel while he went to work and Trickle went to court.

"We don't have a whole bunch of family or anything here," she said. "Please take into consideration the hardship that we face."

The judge told KCTV5 that the court works to help people with hardships, like breast-feeding, who have been summoned to jury duty, but there comes a time when a judge is bound by law. He said he couldn't give exemptions that the law doesn't allow. He said breastfeeding is important, but also thought that Trickle could have found someone to watch the baby.

The law only allows jurors to postpone their jury duty date once. Court documents show Trickle had several postponements.

"It's not right, it's not fair for us. We're just trying to do what's best for our children and we shouldn't be penalized and fined for it," Trickle said.

If she lived in Kansas this wouldn't be happening. Kansas along with 11 other states excuse breastfeeding mothers from jury duty.

A second Jackson County mom was actually fined for a similar reason. On Sept. 26, Roldan had fined an Oak Grove woman $500 for contempt of court and she paid the fine. Roldan ordered the fine refunded and set aside his judgement. The matter is now under advisement until June 6 so that Roldan can see what action state lawmakers take.

A Republican state lawmaker from St. Joseph is among those working to change the law. Rep. Rob Schaaf is a doctor and believes an exemption is needed.

"This year we're going to give it the major push and I'll bet ya we get something done," he said.

Trickle first got a delay from jury duty when she was seven months pregnant. She received two more summons after that. Missouri law currently grants a single exemption for such a hardship.

A protest held outside a Jackson County Courthouse on Thursday was organized as a way to get voters to contact state lawmakers about changing the law.

Trickle said she will be contacting lawmakers and hopes others will as well.

Some state lawmakers want to include additional exemptions including those caring for disabled children.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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