Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

Justice: Pregnant Woman Should Be Excluded From Jury?

09/20/22 11:11 AM By John Reurink

(Source: MIRS.news, Published 09/19/2022) Justice Megan Cavanagh called out an appellate court's suggestion that a pregnant prospective jury be excluded because, as the defense contended, "she would decide the case based on her emotion rather than logic."


The case involved a couple who sued the doctors who treated their 7-month-old infant, who died in 2012. The Supreme Court ended up siding with the doctors, but Cavanagh wrote separately to call out this suggestion.


"Excluding pregnant women as a class on the basis that they could not be impartial would fall into exactly the trap the United States Supreme Court has warned of: 'We shall not accept as a defense to gender-based peremptory challenges 'the very stereotype the law condemns,'" she wrote.


As for the case, the Supreme Court said Friday that it was not persuaded that Mindy Carlsen and Allen Carlsen’s appeal of a trial court's verdict that favored the doctors should be reviewed.


The couple alleged professional negligence against two Bronson Methodist Hospital doctors in Kalamazoo who treated their 7-month-old daughter, Kinzie Renee Carlsen, who died in June 2012 after life support was withdrawn. The death certificate lists cause of death as staphylococcal sepsis and meningitis.


The trial court rendered a "no cause of action" judgment, which essentially says the plaintiffs' lacked facts or allegations to make a complaint, and later denied the parents' motion for a new trial. 


The couple appealed alleging prejudicial conduct by defendant Southwestern Michigan Emergency Services' attorneys, but the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's judgment.


Cavanaugh also noted, with concurrence from Justice Elizabeth WELCH, that she agreed with denying the appeal because "excluding parents of young children makes sense in the context of the trial."


Justice Elizabeth Clement dissented, holding the case should return to the appeals court so it could determine if the Supreme Court's ruling in Rouch World LLC v. Dept. of Civil Rights "construing the 'because of … sex' phrase in MCL 37.2302(a) should inform its interpretation of the phrase 'on the basis of … sex' in MCL 2.511(F)(1)."