A California judge is facing criticism for allegedly berating a stay-at-home mom who asked to be excused from serving on a jury for a trial that would last more than a week, citing the need to breastfeed her toddler and home-school her older children.
Christa Pehl Evans says Judge James Petrucelli told her, "I don't care about your children," and proceeded to bully her in front of hundreds of people for not having child care.
What are the details?
In a Facebook post last month, Evans said that after Judge Petrucelli told her he didn't care about her children, he fired questions at her such as, "Who is going to take care of your children when you get hit by a Mack truck?" and "What do you do when you are sick?"
According to the court transcripts, Petrucelli then reportedly said, "I'm amazed that people don't have child care available to them," the Sacramento Bee reported.
Evans said the exchange went on in front of about 300 people who had been called in for jury duty that day and pointed out that the judge didn't question a man who asked to be excused in order to go to work to support his family. Evans' husband had taken off work to care for their three children while she was at the courthouse that day.
In her post, Evans argued, "We can #MeToo all we want about sexual assault, but until we respect mothering as a valid and important occupation, we have a major sexist problem. Paid work is not the only work that matters."
Judge Petrucelli allowed Evans to be excused from serving in the November trial, but ordered her to report to jury duty again in January.
How did the judge respond to the accusations?
Petrucelli initially denied making the comments when asked about them by the Bee, but after reviewing the court transcripts himself, the judge defended himself, saying his questions were intended to identify a financial hardship.
"It's my responsibility to ask those questions," Petrucelli insisted. "I'm not offended by anything I said, but people have different sensitivities."
The judge admitted, "I do have a tendency to get people's attention. There's no two ways about it," but denied there was any malice behind his intentions.
"It is not my job or thought process to offend anybody," Petrucelli added.