portia louder guilty plea
Before Prison

The Guilty Plea

The order signed by judge Wells put me in jail for a mental evaluation and said I was to be returned to Utah as soon as the evaluation was complete.   When I got to Seattle Sea Tac detention center and was capable of making a phone call I called my attorney.   I told her How beat up I was,  that I had read the order they wrote and my psychiatrist and I felt that they were somewhat responsible for what had happened.   I said, “You need to drop that order and get me home.  I am perfectly healthy to stand trial and want a jury trial.”   She said,  “I will see what I can do.”  I was pretty upset and told her that if they were able to put me in jail on a moments notice at the very least they needed to make sure I was returned to Utah as soon as the evaluation was over.  I needed to be with my family and prepare for trial.
At some point my lawyer told me the government intended to try to keep me locked up after the evaluation.  I was shocked!  I had sent a very descriptive email to my attorney’s outlining what had happened and the trauma I was dealing with.   I told her I needed therapy big time!    I told her I shook at night and had nightmares and flashbacks that I needed the support of a good therapist and to be with my family to recover.   What grounds did the government have to keep me locked up?  I had not violated my pretrial release,  I wasn’t a flight risk or danger to society.   I was terrified to be returned to a county jail!   Federal facilities have rules and procedures,  there is a process of filing a complaint as an inmate and the treatment is much better than a county jail.
The government knew what had been done to me and quit frankly I think they knew about it as it was happening.  They wanted me to plead guilty and were applying pressure,  my lawyers weren’t holding them accountable.  When I arrived back in Utah I was taken right back to the Davis county jail.   I was so excited to see Chad!   I hadn’t seen my family for months and couldn’t wait to see their faces.  Chad called to schedule a visit at the jail and was told they were keeping me in isolation so he wouldn’t be able to visit me.   I was devastated!  I waited a week for my lawyers to schedule a detention hearing,  I had asked them to go to the judge before I even got back to make sure none of this would happen.  I walked into the courtroom handcuffed and there he sat.  The most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Chad looked like everything good in the world to me with his amazing blue eyes.  He had our older children there and all my family as well as his family to show support.   The first thing the government did was clear the courtroom saying the hearing needed to be private because medical issues would be discussed.   Just like that my whole family including Chad were gone and I sat there alone next to a lawyer I didn’t trust.   Then Karen the female prosecutor got up and told the judge how unstable I was.  I was in shock!   She stood there and talked about how I had acted while I had been held in suicide watch and used it against me.   I turned to my lawyers and said,  “She is lying.”   I said, “You need to tell the judge what happened.   My lawyers said, “Calm down Portia,  you are acting so unstable.  You need to pull it together.”  I knew it was hopeless at that point.  Tears streamed down my cheeks,  I wasn’t getting out.   That was very discouraging.  The judge agreed with the prosecutor and said I was to unstable to be released.   It didn’t matter that they had pushed me to an insanity that I was struggling to recover from,  it didn’t matter that I had a perfectly healthy mental evaluation.  The truth was irrelevant and they had all power.
I went back to Davis county jail that night and laid alone in my isolation cell and sobbed.   I missed my children so much!  I didn’t get to say goodbye!   As I thought about the courtroom I felt sick and thought I might throw up.  I was held in isolation for 23 hours a day at Davis county.  I was let out for an hour in the morning and would run to the shower then call Chad and try to get 15 minutes walking around the little day room space then I was locked up for another 23 hours.  Chad was hopeful that I was coming home so he didn’t know weather to send letters and pictures or books or just plan on me coming home.   A couple of my neighbors sent me letters and an officer came in and said they had denied my mail because there was a staple or a smell to the letter they didn’t like.  I started getting pretty paranoid about what would come next.  I asked for a Book of Mormon or a book to read and was told they didn’t give crazy people books because they just rip them up.  I was starting to wonder if they were trying to make me crazy or seem crazy and then have me locked up in an institution.
Those were long hard days for me and prayer became very valuable.  My faith grew in the power of God to sustain me.  They had the jail psychiatrist pull me out of my cell and talk to me one day.   His name was Joel and I knew him.  He also works for LDS social services.   I begged him to let me go to any church meetings or an LDS addiction recovery meeting.   When I was a facilitator I had gone to the jail and facilitated meetings with inmates so I knew they had them there.   He told me I was not allowed to go because they were holding me in maximum security.  I asked why? ” I’m not violent.”  I said,  ” I’m not even a felon.”   Joel said,  “I don’t know Portia, it’s up to classifications.”   I asked to talk to classifications.  He said, “There’s nothing you can do Portia, I’m sorry.”  I asked him how he could be apart of what was going on?   He said,  “I know this is a nightmare for you, isn’t it?”   Joel knew what had been done to me at the other jail and he felt bad,  he told me how strong I was but he couldn’t help me.
Finally one day they told me I would get my hour out in the day room at 2:00,  I had all my stuff ready and had been waiting all morning.  The officer called me over the intercom and said, ” Portia,  we are only letting you out now on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”   It was Thursday so I wasn’t getting my time out.   That was it!   I had it!  I pounded on my cell door and pushed the emergency button and said,  “I am suing the heck out of every last one of you for violating my civil rights. ”  Six officers came running in to handcuff me,  I knew what was coming next,  I told them to go easy on me.   They handcuffed me and took me right back down to suicide watch threw me into a padded holding cell with no toilet just a hole in the floor and stripped my clothes off.   I yelled, “really people!  You can’t hurt me anymore!  I want the green blanket you have to give me,  besides I look good in green!”  Then officer Swan came in and asked me how I was doing?   I said, ” I am saddened by all of this,  will you please just call my husband and tell him I’m ok!”   Then I asked,” Am I going to be here all night?”  A couple hours later they came and got me and took me back to my isolation cell.
The next day I had a hearing at the Federal Court house.   I asked my lawyer what was next for me?   He said,  “The government wants to stabilize you so they are going to put you on schizophrenia medication.”  I looked at him and said. ” Tell them I give up!   I will plead.   I’m not crazy,  but I will be soon.”   He said,  “great!  I will go tell the prosecutor.”   He came back and said they would let me out that day.   The prosecutor would not object to my release if I plead.  Everyone in the courtroom shook their heads.  How could they say in one minute that I was too crazy and unstable to be released  but I was stable enough to plead guilty?   It was a circus!  My lawyer got up and said to the judge,  “Now that Mrs Louder is pleading guilty her mental condition is much more stable.”   The government had argued earlier how unstable I was but now that I had agreed to plead they stood up and told the judge that I sounded healthier than I had in weeks.   The judge said,  “Mrs Louder,  I didn’t think there was a set of condition that I could find that would allow me to release you,  In light of your willingness to plead I can see how much better you are doing.”   I didn’t even read the plea before I signed it,  I didn’t really care.   I had given up and knew that the government had all power.  I couldn’t stay in jail in the conditions I was in or I would have lost my mind.  I was released to Chad and we both cried and held each other and couldn’t let go.  What we had been through was devastating and we were together again.
The government had offered Chad a deal that would include no jail time while I was being evaluated.  Chad said he would consider it but not until I was returned home.  His lawyers were pretty worried that they needed to put a deal together for him before I plead.   My lawyer had promised that the government would drop the charges against Chad to a misdemeanor if I plead because they really didn’t have a case against him.  I looked at Chad during my plea hearing and said,  “This will all be over soon Chad,  they are going to give you a misdemeanor if I plead.”  He smiled but his lawyers were worried!   A few days later his lawyers went to the government to have them make good on the deal they talked about and Stew Walz the lead prosecutor said, “No,  we have pulled that deal off the table because Chad isn’t responsible for getting Portia to plead.”  Chad’s lawyers were mad!  They called my lawyers to back them up and help Chad get a deal.  My lawyers told them, “Chad isn’t our problem.”   I finally reached the point with my lawyers that I had no trust in them.  How could I trust them to fight for me in sentencing with everything that had happened?   We had to make a change!

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