Jenna McDonald, a young mother of two, says she felt humiliated after being kicked out of a provincial courtroom last week.
“I was almost in tears,” she said. “I felt ashamed… and just how he spoke to me was really demeaning and it felt condescending.”
On April 9, McDonald and her eight-month-old baby made their way to the Lethbridge courthouse in hopes of fighting a traffic ticket. She says she was asked to leave when the judge deemed her child “distracting.”
“She wasn’t crying but she was making some noise, fussing a little bit, and immediately the judge had said to me: ‘Get that child out of my courtroom,’” McDonald told Global News.
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“We were asked to leave and I felt very humiliated.”
McDonald, who said she had no choice but to bring her child with her that day, paid her ticket in full and left, adding she didn’t feel welcome in the building.
“I just feel as a mother you don’t really have that option. Your baby is with you, so to say a baby that’s just making some noise isn’t welcome in court to me, that says mothers aren’t welcome there either.”
McDonald said she was also told by a supervisor that the “courtroom is no place for a baby.”
While a representative from the provincial court of Alberta was not made available for comment — nor was the justice of the peace involved — a statement was provided that explained common procedure for situations involving young children in courtrooms:
“The provincial court has no policy preventing children or infants from being in court.
“The presiding judge or judicial officer has the authority to request a parent remove a child from the courtroom.
“This would only occur in circumstances where he or she determined there was a distraction or disruption that affected the communication within the courtroom.”
While judges have the final say regarding who may need to be removed from a courtroom, McDonald hopes, in the future, the court could be more understanding of parents who feel they have no other option than to bring their babies along.