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Michigan Makes National News When Judge Robert T. Hentchel Humiliates Breastfeeding Mom

November 15, 2011

Of all the sick things a judge does, using public humiliation is a tool that I just abhor, using public humiliation to demean a nursing mom in a full court is something that makes me sick. In Van Buren County, a local judge thought it appropriate to call a breastfeeding mother to the front of the court room to tell her that he thought it inappropriate that she nursed her child in “his courtroom.”  Never mind that judges don’t own court rooms, and never mind that a courthouse is a public building.  Never mind that the judge sounds like a misogynist pig in his rant.  Wood TV8 reports:

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) – A Van Buren County woman wants a local judge reprimanded after he questioned the appropriateness of her breastfeeding in court on Tuesday.

“Sitting all the way in the back, I decided I was just going to breast feed him,” Natalie Hegedus said of her infant son. “Sitting there, he latched on. Everything’s discreet, my shirt covered everything.”

A court bailiff noticed what she was doing and wrote a note to the judge about it.

When Judge Robert T. Hentchel called her up, he asked her if she thought it was appropriate to breastfeed in court.

“I said, ‘Considering the fact that my son is hungry, and he’s sick, and the fact that it’s not illegal, I don’t find it inappropriate,'” she said. “And the judge said something to the effect of ‘It’s my court, it’s my decision and I do find it inappropriate.'”

The short exchange left Hegedus humiliated, she said. It brought her to tears.

The chief judge told 24 Hour News 8 the incident was not a big deal. He admitted that it is difficult dealing with potential lawbreakers when they have children in court with them.

“I’m not defending this judge, I just don’t think it is a story,” Chief Judge Paul Hamre said. “This is abuse of the information age. A one-to-two sentence exchange has now turned into a national story.”

Hegedus told 24 Hour news 8 there were 20 to 30 people in the room; Hamre said there two to three.

“I breastfeed willingly, wherever and whenever I need to,” she said. “The fact that a judge and his court clerk thought it was so dirty they needed to reprimand me, in a sense, for doing it in their courtroom was unbelievable to me and inappropriate.”

The coy notes, the nonverbal communication, the alliance against outsiders, makes the collusion between the court clerk and judge sound like a lover’s tryst as opposed to an abusive practice of humiliating a nursing mom. Sounds like the judge has a problem focusing on who the criminals might be and should be removed, expediently.

Vector image of a Michigan county-designated h...

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2011 2:30 am

    Lets discuss the facts of why this woman was in the court room to begin with and why she brought out her sickly child to a court room and not home with another parent. This article is completely misconstrued and misleading.

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      December 21, 2011 3:48 pm

      The article isn’t misleading–you just take issue with the parenting. Unless the woman was in court for parenting issues, the judge has no legal authority to address them. Judges aren’t immune from the law. And, there is no reason to discuss what you appear to see as the issue of why she should have had the father involved. You make assumptions that there is a father in the picture. Too many assumptions don’t make for good argument.

      • mallory permalink
        April 1, 2012 12:41 am

        On other articles you can find why she was in the court room, it was for operating a boat without a boating license. i HAVE BROUGHT MY INFANT to court before, for a parking ticket. Husband has to work in this hard economy and no money for daycare for my infant, I did not have strangers take care of my child. Breastfeeding is a natural part of life, let us not forget he prolly sucked from a breast before. Hes a freaking power happy, misogynistic, ignorant man. He is in no place to pass any judgments, he is not a person who sees things reasonably. He should be removed and humiliated for his actions. As for the Chief county Judge, He cannot be serious in thinking that this is just a trivial matter far blown out of proportion. You also should be removed from the office you hold. court can drag on and on. Who are you to defend the actions of a man prohibiting a mother of providing comfort and nourishment to her infant? TWO Stupid ignorant men who should be ashamed.

      • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
        April 2, 2012 8:34 pm

        I am not sure to whom you are replying when you ask” Who are you to defend the actions of a man prohibiting a mother of providing comfort and nourishment to her infant?” I don’t endorse the judge’s actions at all.


  1. Michigan Judge Humiliates Nursing Mom: “My court, my law… « Unasked Advice

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