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Christine Madison did her civic duty by serving four months on the jury for a death penalty trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this year. She now claims that her employer — the D.C. government — thanked her with a pink slip. On Nov. 5, Madison filed a petition with Judge Rosemary Collyer, who presided over the trial, asking the court to reinstate her employment. Her lawyers, Cary Feldman and Grace Culley of Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, say Madison’s former bosses at the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education violated the Jury System Improvements Act, which prohibits retaliation against employees who miss work for jury duty. They say that Madison could only report to work one day a week during the trial and that she consequently received hostile treatment from her supervisor. But Melissa Merz, director of communications and legislative liaison for D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer, says Madison was discharged because her 13-month employment contract was up. Therein lies the rub. “The Juror Act technically says it protects �permanent employees.’ This is what the agency hung its hat on when we tried to informally resolve this matter with it,” says Culley, who adds that “legislative history, case law, and academic commentary” show that the act does protect Madison. Sutherland Asbill & Brennan partner Hamilton Fox III says he plans to take similar action on behalf of another juror from the same trial. Counsel for the D.C. Superintendent’s Office did not return calls.
Marisa McQuilken can be contacted at [email protected].

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