Ever since I hit age 18, I've been longing for jury duty. I love the whole concept of jury duty---possibly because I've never been called and don't yet realize how little it resembles the movie version. Paul's been called. My mom's been called. My dad's been called.
Guess who got called now?
I'm so cheesed off, because I would LOVE this. I have been WAITING for this. I would wear my cute, long, comfy-but-professional-looking skirt and my serious-looking black shirt. I would bring a book for the long boring waiting, and I would listen attentively during the cases. I would take notes on a little pad of paper. I would think carefully about whether my embarrassing tendency to choke up and cry during moments of any drama, happy or sad, would be a liability if I were made foreperson. I have it ALL PLANNED OUT.
But I don't see how I can manage it. I'm still nursing, for one thing, and Henry has never taken a bottle---nor, if history repeats the other four children, will he ever be willing to. Nor have I EVER been able to get more than an ounce or two with a pump (I'm sorry, is this way TMI?), even when I was successfully nursing TWINS. Nor do I own a pump anymore anyway.
So I looked into it, thinking I would basically say, "Sorry, I can't--I'm breastfeeding" before beginning a long, sad winter of looking resentfully at the children during the days I COULD have been on JURY DUTY if I hadn't had so many CHILDREN. But it turns out that only in four states is breastfeeding considered a legitimate reason to get out of serving jury duty, and my state isn't one of them. (My state says you should pump.)
Nor does my state consider it valid to say that you don't have someone to care for your children (their helpful suggestion: "Arrange care"), or that there is no way your husband is going to be able to take four weeks of unpaid leave so his WIFE can serve jury duty--EVEN IF that were remotely affordable, which it is not.
AND, the first week of jury duty is a school vacation week. Can you see me calling around, trying to arrange temporary childcare? "OH HAI. I need three weeks of full-time childcare for three children including a nursing infant who won't take bottles; plus one week of full-time childcare for five children! But maybe I don't, if they don't choose me because they think mothers are too sympathetic to criminals! Stand by just in case, though, okay? And I can pay you $25 per day before we go broke and lose the house!" (<-- slight exaggeration)
I don't understand how ANYONE affords doing jury duty. The section on financial hardship on the jury duty page says that they totally understand that it's a significant financial burden--but that it's one of our country's most important rights/responsibilities so it is essential to do it anyway. I'd say that's REALLY EASY TO SAY when you're getting paid full wages to say it!
This part of the court system is NO GOOD. Most people can't be away from their jobs for a month, even if finances aren't an issue. Most people are NEEDED at their jobs; that's why they get PAID TO BE THERE. Most people need the income from their jobs; that's why they WORK.
There are two changes that need to be made, in order that the United States citizens can serve duty without unfair hardship to some: (1) there needs to be a daycare service in the courthouse (this also allows nursing mothers to go nurse their babies during breaks), and (2) the pay for serving jury duty needs to be enough to live on---AT LEAST minimum wage.
You should see the form I filled out. Four pages of tidy, printed information about myself and my lack of criminal record, followed by one page of, essentially, "OMG PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ME DO THIS!!!": scribbled-out sections, arrows with explanations, and a final panicky line at the end that almost goes off the page. Then I SLIT THE ENVELOPE OPEN so I could go back and add more scribbles and miscellaneous freaking out and then tape it closed. Sigh. Maybe they'll dismiss me for OBVIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS.
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