I solemnly swear that as a mom of 4, I can’t serve on a jury — FranklyStein


JuryDutyIs having four kids a good enough reason to get out of serving on a jury?

That’s what I’m waiting to hear as I sit in a courtroom packed with people trying to drum up their own excuses of why they can’t serve on a case that may take four days or more.

I’m writing this blog by hand on a pad because I can’t use my laptop in the courtroom. I was anticipating working from the Jurors Lounge but instead, I have been sitting on a hard bench in Courtroom No. 2 for two hours.

I can’t even imagine what would happen if I’m chosen for this jury. Who would take the kids to school? Who would do the afternoon shuttle to sports? What happens if the little guy is sick tomorrow? When would I get my work done?

My life teeters in a precarious balance. There are so many balls in the air right now that adding one more could wreak havoc. Just one day of jury duty already has my stomach in knots. How could I possibly handle four days of this?

In the past, I’ve always been able to get out of jury duty. The first time I was nursing the twins. The second time, I still had a preschooler at home and apparently, that’s a good enough excuse not to have to serve. This time, I considered marking the box that claimed I was a stay-at-home mom — because most of the time I am. But there are those two days a week that I actually go into the office to work. I’m a rule follower. I didn’t want to be in contempt of court.

Getting here today was doable. A neighbor’s friend visiting from Germany drove my morning elementary school carpool. And luckily, it wasn’t my day for the high school carpool. I was able to leave the house extra early to tackle rush-hour traffic, though that meant leaving my 9-year-old home by himself to finish getting ready for school. He wasn’t feeling well, so I had a twinge of guilt.

After spending 45-minutes driving around the Baltimore Beltway during which my speed never went above 25, I finally arrived five minutes late. I settled myself at a table in the lounge right next to an outlet and had begun to work when my number was called. And now I sit hoping and praying that when it’s my turn to approach the bench and tell the judge why I can’t serve on this particular trial, she will agree that being the primary caretaker of four kids is a good enough reason to excuse me.

If not, my precariously balanced life is in for it.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 15, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 9.