Pumping during jury duty

Googling this topic set an expectation for zero accommodation. No lactation rooms. No fridge access. Jurors are not employees. Thus all of the thoughtful details for moms working at the courthouse don’t apply to those jurying at the courthouse. Lactating mothers are the same as any other juror; the time table of the day is variable and unpredictable. Nothing can be promised about when you will have breaks (besides lunch) and when you might be called. Once you’re in the courtroom you taking a break means everyone in the room is taking a break, you can’t just slip out for a pump.

I packed a day vessel and redundant sets of parts to get through the day without needing to access a sink or a fridge. My callused sense of personal indecency invented impromptu pumping rooms in crowded public spaces. My forgiving ducts allowed for off schedule and delayed pumping session start times. In sum, it was one extra bag and a couple of awkward situations, doable but not ideal.


My first awkward pumping session was held sitting on the floor near the windows of a full juror holding room. As soon as I realized the juror management team was about to replay the videos that we’d all watched online the night before I knew I had twenty minutes. I powered on the pump right when the proud intro music could mask the shift in ambient noise. The crowd of sleepy ambivalent Angelinos was none the wiser.


Later I had to pump in the corner of the juror room between an empty shelf of puzzles and a broken, half discarded chair. This nook was adjacent to one of the computer booths. Sitting on a half-upholstered office chair, staring at a small pile of pieces from a one thousand piece puzzle, I wondered where the rest had gone. Our civic priorities are not focused on dusting the counters of the jury break room.

Most of my other pumping sessions were able to align with breaks for lunch, allowing me to hang out in my car. Before a prosecutor graciously dismissed me, I had learned how to maximize these 90 min lunch breaks. I could pump on the way to a local gym, work out, and then eat lunch while I drove back and patched into a work call. When I was in the courtroom rather than the jury break room, the court clerk allowed me to use the witness prep room.


The judge assured me that lactation requirements would be supported if I were to serve for the duration of a trial. He did reiterate that the full court would take a break whenever I needed a break. I never did serve on a trial, but I did worry about the actual logistics of what coordinating an entire courtroom to one mother’s pumping schedule might feel like in reality. I didn’t bother to follow up with the battery of questions that came to mind. Grateful nonetheless that the judge intends for the court to be supportive even if the literal accommodation for lactation is so clearly lacking.

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