When a mom with triplet toddlers and a 4-year-old child was called into jury duty, she couldn't find a babysitter. So she brought everyone to court.
Torrey Scow of Utah is a stay-at-home mom to now 19-month-old triplets Lexi and Zoey (identical twin girls) and Lincoln (the girls' fraternal twin brother), along with her now 5-year-old daughter Emrie. Securing child care for four kids is expensive so when Scow received a court notice summoning her for jury selection in May, she deferred it.
"I emailed the court explaining that we were going to be out of town that week and that finding a babysitter for four children is hard," Scow tells TODAY.com. "I even submitted a family photo so they wouldn't think I was lying."
Scow says she was dismissed from duty but a short time later, she received another jury selection notice for the following week.
Her husband Kory couldn't get out of work and her mother wasn't available to babysit. Fearing a penalty for skipping jury duty — which in Utah can be a fine or even imprisonment — Scow packed up her kids and headed to the courthouse.
"I thought they'd see that I had my hands full and send me home," says Scow. So confident in her belief, she rushed out the door without putting shoes on her triplets or packing many toys.
When Scow entered the crowded courthouse room with Emrie and wheeling her triplets in a wagon, it was "dead silent." Scow parked the stroller in a walkway while she and Emrie took their seats.
"At first, the babies were fine because I had snacks," she says. "Then, I started feeding them so many snacks just to keep them quiet."
Eventually, the triplets started throwing their beverages and pretzels on the floor.
"Me and a woman picked them up, but the triplets thought it was a game, so they continued throwing them," says Scow. "I was embarrassed."
One of the triplets began screaming, triggering a chorus of wails.
"If one yells at the top of their lungs, the others do too," she says. "I can't calm them all at once because I only have two arms. If I pick up one child, the other two get jealous and scream until I get to them."
According to Scow, the triplets drowned out the judge. "People needed her to repeat the questions and I couldn't hear anything."
"The judge asked if there was any reason we couldn't serve and I joked, 'These are my reasons,'" indicating the children, says Scow.
The triplets started crying because they wanted out of the wagon. Unable to contain them quietly, Scow let them roam the floor.
"One walked up the aisle toward the judge so I grabbed that one but as I came back to the wagon, another waddled up so I went back and forth," she says.
Scow says a security guard took pity on her and appeared with a bin full of toys. He also opened up a set of double doors that led into a small enclosed area so the triplets could meander safely and within sight.
Toward the end of the nearly three-hour event, the triplets dirtied their diapers simultaneously. Scow didn't feel comfortable interrupting the judge to use the bathroom, so she waited until dismissal to change diapers in the car.
"I was exhausted and overwhelmed," says Scow, adding that she held back tears in the courtroom. According to Scow, she was dismissed from serving jury duty.
According to United States Courts, serving on a jury in civil and criminal legal cases is mandatory for those who meet a set of criteria, although through a vetting process, not everyone summoned will serve.
It's possible to be permanently or temporarily excused from serving due to lack of child care, for example, if a person would otherwise experience "undue hardship or extreme inconvenience," depending on the situation and the court.
In Utah, the law states that "Judges can excuse you for public necessity, extreme inconvenience, or if you are incapable of jury service. Clerks can sometimes, but not always, accommodate your schedule. Everyone is inconvenienced to some degree by jury service, but for the system to work, people from all walks of life must be willing to serve."
The state also excuses breastfeeding moms from jury duty "by affidavit, sworn testimony, or other competent evidence."
Scow says she respects the judicial system and does not blame the judge for keeping her in court.
"If I had a babysitter, serving would be a really nice break for me," she says. "That day just did not work."