Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: March 1

March 1, 1921 – Jury service for women in Minnesota was carried a step nearer to realization today when committees of both House and Senate recommended for passage three bills designed to place women on the same footing with men, so far as such service is concerned.

The House adopted the report of its judiciary committee at the afternoon session. The Senate is expected to adopt the report of its committee tomorrow.

The first bill admits women to jury service. The second provides for a woman bailiff for service in connection with mixed juries. The third has to do with exemptions for women summoned for jury duty.

In the Senate committee the first two bills were recommended with little discussion. It was on the question of the exemptions that there were real differences of opinion.

The bill, as originally introduced by Senator George Turnham, provided for exemptions for women nursing babies or small children. Two attempts to extend the exemptions failed and the committee finally recommended the bill as drafted.

Senator Hall led the fight for extending the exemptions. An amendment to require the court to excuse any woman who wanted to be excused was presented. It was turned down by a vote of 10 to 4. Senator Devold, Minneapolis Socialist, insisted that such an amendment would simply mean that juries would be made up of “idle women of the rich, seeking new thrills.”

Senator Gjerset presented an amendment that would permit the court to excuse any woman from jury service if, in the judgment of the court, her reason was sufficient. This amendment was defeated by a vote of eight to six.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Three Bills to Admit Women as Jurors Are Step Nearer Passage.”; March 2, 1921; p. 1.

Reason Why Women Shouldn’t Be Jurors According to a Newspaper Cartoon:

 Women could be influenced by handsome male defendants

Portland Evening Telegram; "Trial by Jury,"; Dec. 4, 1912; p. 1.


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