Natalie Hegedus had waited two hours to face the judge. And her 5-month-old son was hungry so she felt she had no choice but to breastfeed him.
Judge Robert T. Hentchel felt just the opposite and gave the Michigan woman a tongue lashing that she said left her humiliated and tearful.
And now her post on the BabyCenter Community has gone viral and even made national news.
Hegedus wrote she was in court for getting a ticket this summer for operating a watercraft without attending a water safety class. She said she was a 32-year-old woman and did not realize the law now required such a class.
"While waiting for my turn, my son got hungry," she wrote.
She said he wasn't in daycare because "we have been fighting a fever from his first ear infection."
And, of course, Murphy's Law struck.
"As luck would have it, my name gets called as he is (feeding)," she wrote. "Now nothing was showing as I made sure, but when I responded, 'Just a minute,' the judge asked me if I thought it was appropriate to feed him in court."
Hegedus said she replied that because her son was hungry and it wasn't against the law that she felt like her action was proper.
"His response was, "My court, my law,'" she wrote. "When I got up to the stand, I saw a note that his court aide had wrote: There is a woman breastfeeding in court."
The case against her was dismissed, but Hegedus said she fled the courtroom in tears. She would like to see the judge reprimanded.
"I have never felt so humiliated," she said. "I am now calmed down, but still hurt that our justice system feels that they can ignore the federal rights of breastfeeding women."
A Grand Rapids television station reached out to the judge who did not respond. But the chief judge in Michigan said the media attention was unwarranted.
"I'm not defending this judge, I just don't think it is a story," said Chief Judge Paul Hamre. "A one- to two-sentence exchange has now turned into a national story."
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