• Sun, Dec 8 - 2:00 pm ET

Connecticut Mom Thrown Out Of Court For ‘Daring’ To Discreetly Nurse Her Baby

thrown out of court for breastfeeding

Facebook

A connecticut mom was thrown out of court for breastfeeding her son this week…even though there is a law that protects her right to do so. Twenty five year old Danielle Gendron was sitting in a Norwich, Connecticut family court room waiting to testify as a witness when she attempted to breastfeed her 3-month-old son, Maddox. After being made to feel “uncomfortable,” as Gendron put it (which I think is an understatement, I would have been humiliated) a female court employee ushered her out. According to Gendron:

“I went to feed him and the marshal, just you know she immediately just waved me out. That’s never happened to me so I wasn’t sure she was speaking to e at first so I kind of looked around and she was like you know get out. It almost make you feel ashamed which is terrible because you shouldn’t feel that way.”

All of this drama caused Gendron to miss testifying and she was rightfully outraged at the incident, especially considering that she knew she wasn’t breaking any rules. She doesn’t understand what the court employee, a marshal of the court, expected her to do (besides sit out in the cold, or in a filthy bathroom I suppose):

“If we could all sit home with our babies 24/7 that would be great but no one can do that and no one would be asked to leave anywhere if they were giving their baby a bottle.”

After Gendron got in touch with the local news station, News 8, the station contacted a court representative who told them that the marshal was reprimanded and “reminded of the law.” Not only that, but all court employees were reminded of the law, to ensure that a misunderstanding like this doesn’t happen again. An apology was also given to Gendron’s sister, who called to complain on Gendron’s behalf.

Now, I’ve written about this subject enough to know I will probably get a fair share of “she shouldn’t have been nursing there, she doesn’t get special rights, etc. etc. BLAH BLAH BLAH MISANDRY!” First of all, I think the female breast has been so hyper-sexualized in the media and society that it makes it hard for women like Gendron who just want to feed their baby. It’s a BREAST, folks. This is what it’s for. Second, it’s so easy to discreetly nurse a baby. It’s not like she whipped out her tit and started spraying breast milk all over the court (though that would be hilarious). As you can see in the video below she was able to nurse ON CAMERA and they didn’t have to blur anything out. If it’s safe for day time TV, how is it hurting some court marshal’s sensibilities?

That being said, I think it’s great that the court acted quickly in reprimanding their employee, and I certainly don’t think the woman should be fired. What good would that do? The key in these situations is for sensitivity training and making sure all employees are aware of the laws, so I think the Norwich family court did the right thing.

Share This Post:
  • Emil

    I think the court deserves credit for handling this appropriately. Not everyone is familiar with the politics surrounding breastfeeding. It’s something that I think about all the time because it is relevant to my life but this is not the case for everyone. They educated their employees, apologized for their mistake. All is good.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I totally agree. Was the marshal in the wrong, yes, but I don’t think she was being malicious, and I respect the court for quickly dealing with the situation.

  • Mikster

    Honestly, why would you have a baby in court? I don’t think it’s right for them to be in a courtroom at all. You make other arrangements for childcare, regardless of your feeding choices.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      3 months is a really quiet age in my experience. Unless the baby was colicky or a huge crier, which she may have been asked to leave for an appropriate reason (disturbing proceedings) But if she was wearing him in the Moby wrap the way the news showed, he was most likely asleep and then when he stirred she started to nurse him. If they allowed her all the way into court with him, then they didn’t have a right (by law) to tell her she couldn’t nurse.

    • Mikster

      As I said, many places don’t permit jurors to bring their babies, citing distraction factors.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      There is a difference between being a juror and a witness. A juror can’t bring their baby because they need to have their complete attention on the proceedings at all times, since they are there to judge the outcome. A witness is simply there to tell a story and could totally zone out the rest of the time if they wanted and it wouldn’t matter.

    • Mikster

      Not to their respective hungry babies ;-)

    • brebay

      jurors get paid, witnesses (except expert witnesses) generally don’t. You can make your case for getting out of jury duty if you’re nursing, not so for being called as a witness.

    • Mikster

      $15 per day – which didn’t cover my lost income, nor childcare (I work from home). I don’t believe in strangers watching my children- never used one. To me, that was much more important than feeding methods- carers should be excused from all court duties.

    • anna perry

      Let’s just exempt mothers from everything.

    • Kay_Sue

      I’m cool with that if we start with taxes.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Excused even as a witness? I think that’s too much. What if you were a key witness in a murder investigation? No go? That’s not very helpful to the justice system. Imagine how you’d feel if you or your family were victimized by a crime and a witness wasn’t allowed to testify or was allowed to opt out because they had a baby at home.
      Best to just allow witnesses to nurse as necessary, which they’re lawfully allowed to do anyway. And even if baby is not nursing and the parent can’t find care, I think it’s just fine to bring baby along. It’s a public building, after all.

    • Cee

      $15 a day doesn’t cover many lost incomes, so take the entitlement down a notch on that one.
      Also many people trust spooky straaaangers to watch their children because many don’t have the privilege of working from home.
      To excuse a primary care giver of children, barring medical condition is a tricky thing. I mean, how long do you propose this lasts? Until the child is in grade school or until the child is 18? I would personally find this excuse to be unnecessary if the child is small enough not be a problem at court or old enough to be at school.
      Everyone has to make sacrifices when going to jury duty. Not just you.

    • elle

      So you don’t want moms to have babiess/breastfeed in court, but strangers watching them is the worst thing in the world? I hope you realize how ridiculous that sounds. It is simply infeasible to excuse mothers from doing everything in the world until their kids are grown so it has to be one or the other. Are you really wanting court cases to be delayed for years? Cuz that’s what your scenario leads to.

    • Cee

      THANK YOU!

    • Nerdy Lucy

      Well. That’s an interesting contradiction.

    • helloshannon

      i think you are dead on. she was nursing him on TV and you couldn’t see anything and he didn’t even make a peep.

    • helloshannon

      they were in family court, not testifying in a murder. you can’t always make arrangements.

    • Mikster

      You have to for jury duty in places that don’t excuse you for childcare.

    • Ptownsteveschick

      I’ve been excused from jury duty once for being too pregnant(was due the same week as the trial) and once for being the primary caregiver to a child under 3. So whatever county you are doing jury duty in must be hard up for jurors.

    • Mikster

      Yep- mileage varies from court to curt, muni to county to federal, in each locale. They excused me for being caretaker to my elderly mother and child with asthma (per his 504 plan at school), but not to care for my 1 yr old son and 3 year old daughter.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      You get paid for jury duty. The two times I did it the pay wasn’t much, but it was enough to help with childcare. And they often excuse nursing women on those grounds. My kids were past the nursing stage when I was on jury duty.

    • Mikster

      Which was $15 per day. That didn’t replace my lost income, and it certainly wouldn’t cover childcare. All carers of children should be excused regardless of how the child is fed. More important than breastfeeding to me was never using a stranger for childcare.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      That’s crazy. It’s so different from one area to another. I received $50 a day both times, which just about covered the childcare since I was paying a good friend. The thing is, you can’t just ask to be excused for testimony. A friend of mine testified at a robbery trial years ago, and the subpoena was mandatory. She didn’t have kids yet, so that wasn’t an issue, but she had to take a day off of work and missed class that day to sit there for hours.

      You see plenty of children in family court, by the way. When I was caring for my foster daughters we were in and out of family court all the time. You have every right to disagree with it and judge these people, but it’s a common occurrence. If you don’t have childcare (and/or don’t want to hire a stranger, which, like you said, is something I would never do) then what choice do they have. Was this her situation? I don’t know, but I have sympathy regardless.

    • AmazingAsh

      People bringing older kids to family court drives me crazy. It doesn’t bother me that they’re physically there; it bothers me that the things I’ve heard in family court make me want to find the nearest private spot and bawl my eyes out. I think it’s really unfair to force a child (who’s old enough to understand what they’re hearing) to sit through other people’s court cases and overhear the terrible things that are happening to other children.

    • Milhouse

      Many many people do not have the priveledge to do that.

    • helloshannon

      Maybe she did and it fell through. You don’t know. Personally my son goes to daycare so it would he fine for me but since you won’t let “strangers” watch your kids you would have a problem. I don’t get why you think it is so easy to make arrangements for an infant.

    • brebay

      If you’re subpoenaed to testify, you don’t really have a choice. It’s not something you can just choose not to do and shouldn’t be on the hook for childcare expenses for something like that.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Agreed. And Not everyone is able to get childcare. When I lived out of my home state I had no one to watch my kids, and we rarely had the extra cash to pay someone for an entire day, which is what court often requires. Not only that, but a 3-month-old is pretty quiet at that age, it’s not like he’s a cranky toddler.

    • Mikster

      As I said, it should pertain to any and all court duties if you are the sole carer for your child- you should be excused. Kids don’t belong in court rooms, period. I could care less how they are fed.

    • brebay

      I think as long as the subject matter of the case isn’t too disturbing and they aren’t disruptive, children should be allowed in court, and that is the general rule. It’s a public building, and every kid should see the court process in action. Most proceedings are public, it’s pretty much a cornerstone of our judicial system. A well-behaved child or quiet baby is no more disruptive than an ill-mannered adult, and both have a legal right to be in any public proceeding.

    • Nerdy Lucy

      I’m not sure you understand how civic duty works.

    • Mikster

      I agree. The same should apply for all jurors, regardless of jurisdiction. They should be excused from any court duty if you are the sole carer of children.

    • Véronique Houde

      haven’t we had this debate on this point several thousand times already? I’m already bored…….

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Babies that age nurse every two hours, usually. Childcare at that stage would be really hard. She’d have to bring a pump with her, and that you can’t do in public. Depending on how long she would be gone, she may have to pump twice, which means cleaning the pump in a bathroom.

    • Cee

      Wait a minute! Moms can’t make childcare arrangements according to you because straaaangers!

    • Justme

      But regardless of whether or not you think it’s the best place for a baby to be…the mother still has the right to breastfeed her child in the courtroom if the baby got hungry. That fact alone trumps every other comment you’ve made. It’s not a matter of “should she” it is a matter of legality and legally, yes – she does have that right.

    • HS

      I think you’re missing the point.

  • Ginny

    I’m with breastfeeding in public, however I think doing such in a Court room, especially when she was there to testify, is a little inappropriate.

    • anna perry

      I agree. But we must be outraged about this and fuel the Breastfeeding Civil Rights movement.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      During testimony, yes. Not a good time. But while waiting? That seems a little heavy-handed. Nursing a hungry baby makes less noise than allowing baby to go hungry.

  • helloshannon

    you can’t be both “for” breastfeeding in public and then in the next breath say it was inappropriate. i would be out for that woman’s job, i don’t care if the court acted quickly to “reprimand” her or not. If you can’t be protected by the law inside a COURTROOM then where can you be?

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I wouldn’t walk into a court room with a baby. But if I did and the court officers who did my security check allowed it, I would be furious if they broke the law by telling me I had to leave. And I did not even breast feed, I just support women feeding their babies, wherever they need to. We don’t know the exact reasons why she had to bring him with her that day, it may have been only due to breastfeeding, it may not have.

  • brebay

    What about the case she wasn’t able to testify in? If her testimony would have been material, the party who called her could ask for a mistrial.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      They don’t go into that. It was family court so I doubt anyone would release the details.

    • brebay

      Family court proceedings (except for adoptions) are still public record in most states. They are in mine, you can look up all the filings and read all the pleadings and motions online. It was just rhetorical, I was just wondering.

    • HS

      What state do you live in? Do they at least redact names? I know in VA anything dealing with family court is not made public.

    • brebay

      nope, nor addresses. They only redact social sec. numbers in family law. In abuse cases, they use initials, though sometimes forget to redact the whole name from an exhibit list or witness list. Divorces and custody are public record in most states (not the entire transcript, those are expensive!) but all the pleadings, motions, etc., witness list. Sometimes they do block a property settlement or a child support calculation.

    • xvala

      That’s interesting. In Nevada, the details, even of family court proceedings, are published in the local newspaper (I think it’s required by law, actually). Names and addresses included.

  • brebay

    Children are generally allowed in courtrooms unless and UNTIL they become disruptive, which a baby with a full mouth probably wouldn’t be. Never forget one time I was in traffic court, and there was a guy there being charged for soliciting a prostitute in the wal-mart parking lot. He brought not only his two school-age children into the courtroom with him, but his wife as well. Homeschool civics lesson, I guess!

  • Human Target

    As a mom I would like to think she would of been better prepared for this. Maybe it was because I was in my early 20s when I had my daughter, but I felt a little weird about popping on out in public to feed her. So in my diaper bag I always carried my breast pump with me. She should of pumped prior to this. The milk would have been good long enough to feed her child with when he was hungry while she was in court.

    • helloshannon

      My son only took bottles from other people when I was out of sight. Expecting a baby to take a pumped bottle instead is naive.

    • Edify

      What worked for you doesn’t necessarily work for others. What you are comfortable with is subjective to you. What the mother did was completely lawful and infinitely more convenient for her than having to pump and ensure she has enough available for a situation like this where you have no idea how long it will take.

      So if it’s legal, more convenient for her and is what is working for her baby, why should she do what you are suggesting because you were uncomfortable to feed your baby in public?

    • brebay

      Yes, laws should be based around what YOU would and wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in your early twenties. Next time we want to decide if people are legally allowed to do something, we’ll find you and ask if you’d be comfortable doing it. Brilliant. Problem solved. Also, it’s should have, not should of.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I really do not understand this point of view. Just because you weren’t comfortable breastfeeding in public, everyone else should feed their babies from bottles whenever they leave the house? I never felt uncomfortable nursing in public (nor did anyone ever attempt to make me feel uncomfortable, thankfully), and my kid never took a bottle.

      I ‘prepared’ every time I left the house by making sure I had an easy-access top and bra on.

    • brebay

      Exactly. I never felt comfortable doing it in public, and never did, but that’s MY ISSUE, not something I think should be codified. The whole thing with public breastfeeding is people can’t get over the fact that THEIR discomfort in a public place is THEIR PROBLEM. I don’t know who told these people they have the right to live in a society and never be made to feel uncomfortable, ever.

  • Kay_Sue

    Ideally, you make other arrangements. Ideally.

    Unfortunately, ideally isn’t always realistically. And in the real world, they let this woman through security, they let her into the courtroom, and there was a law in place to protect her right to feed her baby. Seems open and shut to me.

    I do think the court did right addressing it and making sure that the entire staff received training.

    • KarenMS

      Honestly, I don’t even feel that “ideally” another situation would be better. A mother feeding the baby in the direct way nature intended seems exactly ideal to me, no matter the location or audience, as long as mama and baby are comfortable. Public breastfeeding needs to be de-stigmatized in a big way.

    • Kay_Sue

      I was actually referring to having the kid in the courtroom at all. While most babies are pretty quiet at three months, you never know when one’s going to have a moment. Ideally, yes, Mom could have made other arrangements for the child. But in a realistic world, where she couldn’t or didn’t, and they allowed her to bring her child into the courtroom, this was a poor decision on the marshall’s part…which the court addressed.