Monday, October 19, 2009


Today, I was summoned to Federal Court for jury duty. It was inevitable. Ever since registering to vote, they somehow snag me every two years. While I certainly wasn't looking forward to it, there's always a certain amount of intrigue involved, especially when it's a Federal case.

I was in it for the long haul; Jim had taken the day off to stay home with the kids, and run Peri to and from her preschool class, and I had packed a of couple snack bars and some magazines. Rather than attempting all of the numerous one-ways and parking downtown, I decided to take the light rail system, and after what seemed like forever (really only about an hour) I arrived downtown and walked the few blocks to the courthouse.

It was really impressive, clean and organized. Everything I wished I had at home. At least my tax dollars were paying for someone's "house" to look nice. I checked in and waited with the 50 or so other people until we were eventually called into the courtroom. We filed in and waited for the judge to enter. Once he did, he briefly went over the type of case we were dealing with and introduced the courtroom staff. Then sixteen names were called and those people went and sat down in the jury box.

It was a wrongful death case and the judge informed everyone that it would take about 2 weeks to complete and if anyone had a conflict, they needed to speak up now. Immediately, one woman raised her hand and said that she had a medical condition and she was being treated that week. The judge excused her and a replacement name was called. Me.

I walked over and took her empty seat and the judge asked me if I had any conflicts.

Me: Yes, I have two children that I tend to at home. And I don't think I can find childcare.
Judge: You need to give me more than that.
Me: My husband is home with them today, but he can't take off the next two weeks from work.
Judge: You're unable to make arrangements?
Me: I would have to find some kind of childcare and one of them needs to be taken to and from preschool.
Long pause.
Judge: *sigh* (very reluctantly) You're excused. And I find you guilty of breeding.

Okay, he didn't say that last part, but he might as well have. I felt like I was on trial, having to justify my need to be excused. I'm sorry, you want me to find childcare for my two kids, for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow and you're only willing to give me $40/day to cover all of my expenses? On what planet?! If I could afford childcare, do you think I'd be watching my kids? And forget about the fact that it's hard enough to find a sitter to watch my kids two weeks from now, let alone for the next two weeks starting tomorrow. At first I felt guilty, as I walked away from the courthouse, but then I was just annoyed. I stay home with my kids, I hardly have time for me, what makes you think I have extra time for you? Call me back in two years (because you know you will) and we'll talk then, but I shouldn't be made to feel guilty because I can't help you out now.

I admit that it would have been an interesting case to have sat in on, but seriously, how many stay at home parents are even able to do something like this? On the bright side, I did get out of sitting through the rest of the jury selection process, since I was the first alternate called, and I wonder how many other parents were sitting out there waiting for their turn. Next time, they should have a stay at home parent pre-screening process, where you're automatically exempt, as a courtesy, for dealing with the trials and tribulations of staying home with children. Then they should give you ear plugs and a chocolate bar before sending you back out into the world.


  1. Someone told me that if you stay home full time you can fill something out where you don't get called in the first place...not sure if that's true, but it should be. And $40/day is more than you get in CA.

  2. Not sure about California, but I was paying $50/day when my kids were in an in-home daycare and that was before they raised their rates. I can't imagine finding anything for less than that now. That's sad if they pay even less for your time in California. It's not even about the money; if I'm not watching my kids, who's going to? I don't think they have a "get out of jury duty" free card here. Unfortunately.

  3. Im a stay at home mom and the judge would not let me out of jury duty. This was 1 month after I gave birth as well. We only got $25 a day and my husband had to risk his job to stay at home with our 3 kids while I was at jury duty. How does $25 even compare to a days work that my husband is missing?

  4. Yuck, Hyla. That hardly seems fair. I'm sorry they didn't dismiss you when they really should have. It would have been easier if my husband had been called, then his work would have excused him without any problems, but I can understand an employer not being able to excuse an employee because their spouse is called. Staying home sometimes gets you the short end of the stick and not much understanding from our judicial system.

  5. Hyla, that totally sux! It's not a really practical system is it?!

  6. You could have looked at the judge and said, "What I do is pretty much the same as your job....I solve disputes, have to determine who is lying, and dish out punishments. I do all of this while potty training, fixing supper, and looking fabulous. What I do makes your job look easy. Could you be gone from your position for two weeks without worry? Well, then neither can I."
    I am so brave in my own head.....
    LOL :o)

  7. Oh me too, Stephanie. I had several snarky comments to make when he gave me a hard time, but I kept thinking, "Contempt of court, contempt of court."

  8. LOL Holly...I can imagine the phone call to the hubby:
    "I simply explained to the judge that his job was no more important than mine. He didn't agree.....So can you come bail me out of jail?"

  9. LOL! Contempt of court? "You're damned right I'm in contempt--I find these proceedings quite contimptible!"

    Yah--brave inside my head. hee hee hee

    At any rate... I get around the rigamaroll (and always have) by feeding the jury summons to the shredder. It's not sent via registered mail...PROVE I ever got it! All the scare-tactic language on the summons notwithstanding, nothing has ever happened. In reality, they don't have enough staff to go chasing down non-responders.
    ...but--just in case...I'm making this comment anonymously.. ;-)


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