Room is sponsored by the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.
Jacksonville joined a trend in government building accommodations Wednesday when the Nursing Lounge opened at the Duval County Courthouse.
A project of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, the suite on the fourth floor provides a place where mothers who are visiting the courthouse can nurse their babies or express breast milk and store it in a refrigerator until they’re ready to leave the building, said Jennifer Shoaf Richardson, president of the association.
“We want it to be a nice space. It’s for any mother who’s in the courthouse and needs to nurse or use a pump,” she said.
The first such lounge in Florida was established last year at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Others have since opened in Hillsborough and Orange counties.
Richardson said the lounge was a priority this year for the association. The idea was accepted immediately when she brought up the plan to court administrators.
“The chief judge was totally on board,” she said. “As soon as I asked, he said yes and asked which room we wanted.”
Chief Judge Mark Mahon said he was aware of the need for a dedicated space for nursing mothers before the association approached him with the idea.
He’s been chief judge since January 2015 and in that time, two of the 35 judicial assistants became parents and expressed milk in a room on the seventh floor adjacent to the judges’ offices.
Mahon said he thinks the lounge will be particularly valuable for nursing mothers who are jurors, as well as attorneys, litigants and mothers taking part in the family court services. “I know there is a need for this,” he said.
The lounge in Room 4315 will be locked when it’s not in use. Access may be gained by asking the bailiff on the fourth floor near the east hallway.
Mahon said providing a clean, comfortable place in the courthouse for nursing mothers is “part of the evolution of the justice system.
“I applaud the women lawyers for bringing this to our attention,” he said.