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Mom on jury duty who didn't have child care says she was bullied, humiliated by judge

Mackenzie Mays, The Fresno Bee on

Published in News & Features

FRESNO, Calif. -- Christa Pehl Evans left jury duty at the Fresno Superior Courthouse last month feeling humiliated by a judge she alleges had disdain for her job as a stay-at-home mom.

Pehl Evans, a mother of three children under the age of 7 who sometimes teaches as an adjunct professor at Fresno Pacific University, raised her hand in court during jury selection on Nov. 20, asking Judge James Petrucelli to excuse her from serving on the case, saying she needs to take care of her children. She breastfeeds her youngest and home-schools the others.

She said Petrucelli's response left her feeling bullied, and called his line of questioning anti-woman and anti-mother.

"He had this attitude toward me that I was some dumb mom, which is a broader problem in this country," she said. "I have a Ph.D. from Princeton, and being a mother is the hardest job I've ever done. I felt like I had to defend myself for mothering my children."

According to court documents, when Pehl Evans asked to be excused, Petrucelli asked who was caring for her children at that moment. She replied that her husband had stayed home from work.

"What happens when he does not take a day off or if you are sick?" Petrucelli asked.

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Pehl Evans replied, "I take care of my kids when I'm sick."

Petrucelli then asked, "If you got hit by a Mack truck and went to the hospital?"

"That would be an issue. It has not happened yet," she replied.

Then Petrucelli questioned another mother in the jury box.

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