Thursday, January 30, 2020

Crime Control Assembly Line - My Adventures in Weed Court 2.0 Part 3


On December 3rd, 2019, Nate and I appeared in Nez Perce County Court to move forward towards trial on our charges. See My Adventures in Weed Court 2.0 pt 1 & 2

The trip up north was decent. We decided to go through Oregon and Washington and avoid the snow in the Idaho Mountains. It was quite a beautiful adventure, but we were both obviously nervous for court. Mainly because we didn't know what to expect. Neither of us had ever been in this court.

We got to the court house a bit earlier than our 2:45pm PST scheduled time. We went up to the court clerk window we had gone to previously, and asked where we were supposed to go for the pretrial hearing. The clerk referred us to a little desk right next to the clerk's window.

There was a little sign that gave instructions to sign in, and wait down the hall - the prosecution would call us when ready.

THIS WAS MY 4TH RED FLAG
(see pt.2 for the other 3 red flags)

The prosecution is who calls the defendant here? We had filed our notice of appearance that we were both pro se, and had refused the public defender's services. Neither of us trust them, me especially after going through two of them in the last case, and then a paid attorney, just to end up taking over anyway. We have more time, than an overloaded public defender, to dedicate to the cases ourselves, but we figured we go into the court room, and the judge would call the case to order, not the prosecution.

I pointed it out to Nate. We had discussed the Crime Control model of the Criminal Justice System several times since the last time we were in Lewiston, and the need to pursue Due Process in a small town court like this.

On the trip north, we had decided to request that our cases be joined together. It made sense - it was all from the same night, the same situation, and all of the evidence, witnesses, and questions of law were exactly the same. It would be beneficial, not just for us with travelling, but also the prosecution and the court if we have only one trial.

It seemed redundant and a waste of resources not to join them together. So we figured we would ask the prosecutor to stipulate to joining them, hoping they would see the logic of not wasting so much time and effort of prosecuting the same exact case, twice.

We decided that since we were seeing the prosecutor first, perhaps we could discuss that with them before going before the judge.

We signed in, and then found our names on the court docket pinned on a bulletin board.

We were originally assigned to Judge Michelle M Evans, but I had looked up the cases on iCourts before we left and learned that they had us seeing a different judge that day - Judge Karin Seuber.

We walked to the end of the hall, where we saw other people were waiting. As we walked, we saw two women in a little room off to the left. One looked like an attorney, with long blonde hair, and the other was obviously a defendant. She was talking quickly, focusing on the details of the drama behind whatever she was being charged with that had brought her there that day.

I eavesdropped as we walked by, catching that she had multiple charges and they were discussing consolidating them all into a single trial.

We got to the end of the hall, and found a couple empty seats in chairs that lined the little waiting area. We waited our turn, occasionally chatting with the friendly bailiffs, and checking out the interesting architecture of the old building. Nate (aka former Fire Chief Howell) noticed the fire plan in an old frame on the wall was extremely outdated and pointed it out to one of the bailiffs, who acknowledged it and talked about needing to update the entire court house for a lot of things.

After awhile, most of the people cleared the hallways by either leaving or going into one of the three small courtrooms. We had figured out which court room we would be in, and were waiting on the opposite side of the hall where the chairs were located. As it goes with courthouses, we could identify who was attorneys and who was defendants or friends and family of the defendant. All of the attorneys seemed to know each other and acknowledged each other as they passed in the hallway.

We had been waiting awhile, when the blonde lady from the room down the hall walked around the corner and said my name. I got up and said hello to her. She told me to come with her, and I motioned to Nate, telling her that we were together. She asked if he was Nathan Howell and he nodded. She told him to stay there. I again asked that he come with me, and her demeanor changed to immediately impatient, and her answer was abrupt and authoritative. "No. I have to see you separately."

RED FLAG #5

It shouldn't matter if we are together or separate. We were both okay with talking together and the only concern should be confidentiality. If we waive that, it shouldn't matter to this woman. But she also isn't a defense attorney,  she is a prosecutor, so it didn't matter for confidentiality either.

I followed her back down the hallway, towards the clerks office, and she had me go into the little tiny room that we had passed on the way in. There was only enough room for a small table and a computer, with two chairs - one for her and one for me. As we sat down, I offered her a complimentary copy of my notice of appearance and said I had just filed it.

She kind of laughed, and said "you don't have to do that. If you don't have an attorney, you are pro se." I told her that we filed it for the court record and she just kind of waived it off. She sat down, pulled up something on her computer screen, and started reading off the charges against me.

Then she started reading off the most extreme penalties of the charges.

I could instantly tell where this was going. I have witnessed enough criminal and CPS cases to realize what was happening. She had brought me to a tiny room by myself, essentially told me I was in trouble, and was now telling me the worst case scenario if I went to trial and was found guilty.

She was about to offer me a plea bargain.

RED FLAG #6

This is an extremely common form of intimidation and manipulation - used to get defendants through the crime control assembly line as quickly as possible. It is precisely what is done in CPS cases, except in those cases it's called a case plan, not a plea bargain. But it is the same general premise.

Put the defendant in a tiny room, scare them with the charges, scare them with the penalties (in CPS cases - scare them by termination of parental rights and never seeing their kids again), offer them something they can live with, and push them through the system quickly to get the end result: --- $$$ --- 

There is even a movie called American Violet that is all about the use of intimidation and plea bargains to push people through the system without actually going to court. It specifically outlines a case that the ACLU fought in Texas.
(Fantastic movie! Highly recommended.)

I interrupted her, and tried to tell her I knew all of this, and that there wasn't going to be any plea bargain, so I could save her some time from reading it all off like that. I just wanted to have a conversation about going to jury trial. She became extremely irritated when I interrupted her. She told me to let her finish, and as she started again, I asked her if she was required to read it to me.

She said yes she needed to finish, her tone and her energy obviously condescending and authoritative. As if she thought that I was just being argumentative with her.

RED FLAG #7

My hands began shaking.

But I wasn't nervous. It was the shaking I recently correlated to the confrontation of corruption in front of me. Not that this woman was corrupted, or that Trooper Hammon from the wrongful arrest is corrupted, or that any of the people at the Nez Perce County Jail are corrupted.

I'm definitely not saying that they are horrible, corrupted people. Odds are they are actually really good people, with normal families and lives, who are just doing their jobs and what they are told to do by a superior. The corruption is in their training. This lady had been trained to follow certain procedures and seemed agitated that I was interrupting that process.

She asked if I even wanted to hear the plea bargain, and I said don't waste your time. Unless she was dropping all of the charges, we were going to trial. This seemed to upset her even more.

She finally filled out some paperwork and told me to sign it. I read over it, and decided it was a template specifically created to let this particular court know if the case was resolved through a plea bargain or if it was going to trial.

It took a moment for my hand to quit shaking enough to sign my name, so I took a few breathes and brought up the possibility of filing a motion to join the cases together for efficiency. She immediately shut me down, without even letting me finish what I was saying, and told me "YOU CAN'T DO THAT."

RED FLAG #8

It's amazing how many times I have heard of prosecutors, deputy attorney generals, public defender's and even court clerks across the country, telling people what they can and cannot do in their own case. Many of these are people are supposedly not even allowed to give legal advice.

And I know, that a lot of people simply believe them and then don't even try.

I knew I definitely could, and would, file a motion to have the judge decide the matter, since the prosecution wouldn't agree. It was worth asking for and the worst the judge can do is say no. But it IS up to the judge...

The entire purpose of court is to mediate conflict in our society. That conflict is typically between two parties. In civil cases, say a divorce, the conflict is between spouse vs. spouse. In criminal cases, the conflict is between the state vs. defendant. So here, the conflict is between me and the prosecutor (representing the state). The conflict is that the state has charged me for an alleged violation of the law. This involves questions of the law, and determining how to mediate that conflict - either through something like dismissal of charges, or a plea bargain, or a jury trial.

A judge's entire role in our society is to mediate that conflict, and they follow a specific process to do so.

Any party can file a motion and request pretty much anything from the court. That is the entire purpose of a motion. It doesn't matter what you want. If you want the court to do something in your case, filing a motion is how you request it.

I once had an attorney explain to me that you could write a motion on a napkin with crayon and the court would still have to hear it. You may look silly, and they may look down upon you like you aren't professional, but the format and medium you use is unimportant. It is the argument and the request of that court that matters.

Motions are how you are able to officially talk to the judge about what you want to happen in the case. What you want the court to do, in order to receive a court ruling and order for it to be done.

When I started to cite some law I had read about joining the cases together, she interrupted me again and said, "well if you feel confident, go ahead and file it."

I definitely will, I thought. She seemed in a rush to get me out the door, so I finished signing the paperwork for going to trial. She told me to take it to the court room and give it to the clerk.

I got up and went back down the hallway to where Nate was now standing, waiting for us. I kind of whispered, "not guilty - going to trial." I gave his shoulder a squeeze as I passed, and then went into the court room.

It was a standard set up - a gallery leading to the tables for the prosecution and the defense, with the judge's bench up on a platform, overseeing everything. At one end was a door, leading into the clerks office we had passed at the front. Another door was to the side, that lead back into the hallway we had just walked down. The judge we were scheduled to see, Karin Seuber, was sitting behind the bench looking at her computer. I recognized her from the research I had done when I learned she was assigned to her docket that day.

Nez Perce County Judge
Karin Seuber
Judge Seuber locked eyes with me when I walked in and I smiled at her. She smiled in return and continued working on the computer. A clerk was sitting next to her up on the bench, and another clerk was on the other side of the room, working at another computer.

The second clerk got up and took some paperwork to a girl on the opposite side of a little wooden wall that separate the tables and bench from the gallery. She was the girl that had been in the tiny room with the prosecutor when we had arrived. They were discussing the same thing I had overheard - combining the cases together for a date on the schedule.

This clerk saw me come in, and motioned to bring her the paperwork. I tried to tell her that I needed to work out the dates before she scheduled the date, because we had to travel and it's difficult for me with my disability and low income, and I only get paid once a month. She didn't let me finish, told me to take a seat on one of the pews in the gallery, and took my paperwork back to the computer.

Judge Seuber looked kinda bored sitting on the bench. I had learned when I researched her that she is a former defense attorney who had just recently been appointed as the new Magistrate judge for Nez Perce County earlier that spring. She was causally watching the interactions between the clerk and the other girl while multi-tasking on her computer.

A few minutes later, Nate walked into the room. He took a seat next to me and I whispered, "Welcome to the Crime Control Assembly Line" and he just nodded.

We had literally gone from Point A (sign in), to Point B (wait in hall) to Point C (little room with prosecutor) to Point D (courtroom) as if it were actually an assembly line. It was obvious that this was how they efficiently processed all of the people coming in for pre-trial through a crime control model. If you were there - you MUST be guilty!

As we were waiting, I asked Nate what happened with the prosecutor. He told me she offered him like a $250 fine if he would plead guilty to possession of Marijuana, and she would drop the possession of paraphernalia. "Nothing else?" I asked. He shook his head.

That was actually a really good deal. No jail time, no community service. Just a fine.

It was apparent that Lewiston, Idaho (a border town to legal Clarkston, Washington) has essentially decriminalized Marijuana on their own. The criminal element of a misdemeanor charge, and possible penalty of jail, was still there... but just pleading guilty and paying a fine as if it were an infraction probably looks pretty frickin good compared to the year in jail and thousand dollar fine maximum penalty for each charge with which the prosecutor had just tried to intimidate us...

I asked him if he told her no. He said "Yeah, I don't want a drug charge. It'll mess everything up with driving for EMT. I want to go to trial."

"Yeah," I said. "They didn't find anything ON you or in your stuff. It was all in MY car."

The clerk called my name, and I walked up to meet her. She handed me paperwork, and I looked at the date listed for the next proceeding - February 22nd, 2020.

I told her that this was what I was trying to explain earlier. I can't make that date. 

I am dependent upon my social security income for traveling, and I only receive it once a month. That money is always gone by the middle of the month because of rent and bills and what not, and the end of the month gets difficult stretching things like food and necessities - including gas money to go to my physical therapy appointments 20 miles away, much less to travel 250 miles to Lewiston and then back again.

I also explained that Nate needed to travel with me, so we needed to make the dates the same so that he could be here too. (His gas guzzler country truck is not affordable to drive long distances.) He handed her his paperwork as I requested something for after the 3rd of the month, when I get paid.

The clerk was instantly frustrated. She tried to tell us that she had to fill certain spots first before she could move on into the month of March.

RED FLAG #9

They have to fill up certain dates first? What a weird thing to say about court scheduling. She told me she couldn't change the date, and that if I wanted a date that was different that I would have to go talk to "Joey" - the Prosecutor.

- Kali Jo Parker -
Nez Perce County Deputy Prosecutor
RED FLAG #10

I looked at Nate and he gave me a look like he knew what I was thinking. The prosecutor apparently runs things here? Definite Crime Control model.

So we went back out the door, to go talk to the Prosecutor, Kali Jo Parker (I learned her name later when I began researching her more.) The clerk had gone out a side door and beat us to the room with Kali Jo. They were talking about what was going on.

When they saw us standing out side the door, they shut the door without a word.

RED FLAG #11

Any time you are dealing with public servants like this in the court process, it can absolutely be done in public, especially scheduling. Behind closed doors with a prosecutor to determine scheduling conflict was weird. It is a matter usually taken up by the clerk, and sometimes the judge - not the prosecutor.

I have scheduled numerous court appearance, and helped others schedule their own, through various courts around the country - ex parte, criminal, civil, family, and even juvenile. If we had been lawyers, we would be scheduling dates to work around other dates in our schedule for other cases, and the court is typically very accommodating of scheduling needs for all sides.

No one typically cares what date it ends up as, as long as it works for every one, there is enough time to prepare, and there isn't too long of a delay between proceedings.

We heard them laughing behind the door, and then it opened. The clerk walked out, and back into the court room, without even looking at us. Kali Jo came out the door into the hallway. She was obviously not pleased to see us again. She told us that they could not reschedule the dates.

We tried to explain what was going on, and that we needed flexible scheduling because of our travel needs and limited resources. She started arguing that whatever date the clerk gave us is what we could have, and they wouldn't change it.

Again, I listed all the reasons we needed accommodations on scheduling, this time including that I am disabled and we will need to accommodate that as well in the scheduling. Traveling is quite difficult for me, especially long distances.

Kali Jo kept trying to interrupt me, and explain to me "how things are done here."

RED FLAG #11

When I obviously wouldn't back down, she refused to even speak to me or look me in the eye. I would say something, and she would direct her answer to Nate, trying to convince him that this is just how it was going to be. I was starting to get frustrated by the apparent disrespect and avoidance when I was obviously attempting to communicate with her.

When Nate told her that they couldn't set us up to fail like that - by making it a date that we knew we couldn't attend, because then we would get a failure to appear and a warrant issued - she kind of threw her hands up and exclaimed "fine!" before she stormed into the court room through the side door.

We went back around through the main doors of the court room, and took a seat again. Kali Jo was talking to the clerk and we could hear them say things like "we would need special permission" and "it is policy to fill up the open spots first".

RED FLAG #12

Then go get your special permission, I thought. Policy isn't law, and policies can be bent to accommodate something as simple as scheduling.

I looked at Judge Seuber sitting on the bench. Every time we would lock eyes, I would smile and then she would smile in return. She seemed very sweet, but was not involved in the situation at all. She was kind of watching it all happen but she didn't say one word the entire time we were there. She was the judge on record in open court, and not one person even requested her input on the date issue - which blew my mind. The prosecutor really did run that court room.

RED FLAG #13

I heard Kali Jo and the clerk talking about March 12th, so I spoke up that would work for us and mentioned we appreciate the flexibility so we can travel. They just ignored me.

Finally, Kali Jo left the room, and the clerk motioned for us to meet her at the front of the gallery. Obviously still frustrated, she handed us the paperwork. We were scheduled for March 10th and March 12th - which should work just fine.

I saw on the paperwork, we weren't assigned to Judge Seuber anymore. We were once again assigned to Judge Michelle M. Evans, the same judge from before they changed it on us without notice.

We thanked the clerk for the accommodations of scheduling, and apologized for any inconvenience. She seemed really frustrated that she had to figure it all out, and I felt a little bad. But only a little. After all, it is in her job description to schedule the docket; and that's precisely what she gets paid tax payer money to do as a public servant and clerk of the court.

On the way out of the court house, I stopped at the court clerk's window. When Kayla - the clerk from last time we were there -came up to the window, I asked her how I can find out who Judge Evan's clerk was and how to reach them. I would need this information for when I was scheduling for my Motion for Joinder to be heard. She gave me another post it note, this time with contact information for someone named Donna. I thanked her and we went on our way.

We hung out in the parking lot for a moment talking, before we got into the car to leave and go have dinner with our son again. The silver lining of the entire thing was getting to see him so soon after the last visit!!

As we were talking, I pointed out to Nate how close the courthouse is to the Washington border.



Just over the river, I wasn't considered a criminal for choosing marijuana as medicine. But here we were, at a small town Idaho courthouse... once again fighting for the right to choose a better quality of life on the wrong side of the imaginary line that separates the Drug War from science and logic.

And apparently fighting for Due Process, too.

This was obviously a version of the crime control model of the criminal justice system. We had just personally witnessed the assembly line - a plea bargain money making machine.

Nate and I were #28 & #29 on the sign in sheet for the day. Meaning that 27 other people had come and gone before us. We were also listed on the docket on page 11 of 15 pages, so they had plenty more coming in after us.

No wonder all of the people we encountered along the way were frustrated and acted like they didn't know what to do when we changed things up on them; and why they were always trying to rush through to the next case. We had messed up their way of doing things - their assembly line - reacting as if they were little factory workers and the line just got backed up.

After doing the math, it definitely makes sense. 

For estimation purposes - we'll use Nate's plea bargain offer... if everyone who goes through the court is offered a $250 plea deal, and say they had 60 people a day come through the court, and let's say conservatively 2/3 of the people (40 people a day) accepted such a plea deal... (although ACLU estimates 90% of cases are settled through plea bargain) that would be an estimate of $10,000 a day the county is making with their crime control assembly line.

I wondered how hard it would be to achieve Due Process in this court.
I was definitely curious to find out if this other judge, Michelle M. Evans, would be willing to provide it for us. Out of everyone in a court house, judges definitely know the Supreme Law of the Land (US Constitution), the right to Due Process, and how important it is for preserving justice.

I've experienced many corrupt judges over the years, and will lose total respect for a judge that does not follow the Constitution. After all, the entire purpose of the Supreme Court is to determine whether or not lower courts and judges followed the Constitution in each case.

If a judge doesn't follow the Constitution, then there is a big problem, and appeals must follow to hold them accountable. I've witnessed terrible corruption in cases, where judges do some wicked and crazy things - like end a child's life while the parents are pursuing an appeal - and the only recourse is through the higher courts. Judges have qualified immunity and cannot be sued.

But even after experiencing such corruption first hand, I still always give every new judge I encounter the benefit of the doubt. Will this judge provide us with a fair and impartial court? There is only one way to fight out.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Nez Perce County Court - My Adventures in Weed Court 2.0 - Part 2


On the morning of Tuesday, November 12th, 2019, I called the Nez Perce County Court clerk to find out whether or not we had to actually go into the court house in order to make our pleas of Not Guilty for the charges we had received from the Idaho State Police in Lewiston the week before.

See My Adventures in Weed Court 2.0

I told the gal who answered the phone what I was wanting to know. I said we were already up north, was wondering if we could make our pleas over the phone so we didn't have to drive all the way back to Lewiston - since we needed to get on the road back home. She asked my name and then put me on hold to find the information.

When she came back on the line she told me:
"You can plead to the possession of marijuana and paraphernalia over the phone and set up a payment arrangement for the fine, but you'll have to come into the courthouse and be sentenced by a judge for the obstruct and delay."

THIS WAS MY FIRST RED FLAG

One of the very first things I was taught when I started my college criminal justice program is that the United States Criminal Justice system has evolved into two totally opposite models - the Crime Control model and the Due Process model.

First proposed in 1968, by American law professor and criminologist, Herbert Leslie Packer - in his book "The Limits of the Criminal Sanction" - these models have been accepted as the two fundamental models of the entire Criminal Justice system in our country. Based upon what is perceived as important to the public at the time, our society follows one of these two models.

The Crime Control model is a conservative approach to crime by regulating criminal conduct and justice in an effort to protect society from dangerous criminals. It focuses on strict and swift punishment for crimes, criminal deterrence through fear of harsh consequences for violations of the law, and expediting criminal cases through the system as quickly as possible - even if it means expanding the powers of the courts and violating criminal defendant's rights to due process.

It gives greater power to prosecutors and the courts that handle the case in their area. This model has been used in times of our history where our populations have expressively desired that our system be "TOUGH ON CRIME."

In contrast, the Due Process model is thought to take a much more liberal approach to criminal justice that favors defendant's rights. This model functions under a tenet that we are all taught is true about Criminal Justice in the United States - that defendants are innocent until proven guilty and have rights to a fair trial - with evidence and witnesses and a defense- before being found guilty by a jury of their peers in a public hearing.

The Due Process model also focuses on strategies that encourage rehabilitation of offenders - rather than simply punish them. It's foundation is built on principles to ensure the rights of the accused, as laid out by the Supreme Law of the Land - the United States Constitution.

Based upon what the court clerk had said to me, I had a feeling Nez Perce County is ran primarily on the Crime Control model of the Criminal Justice System - where cases simply follow an assembly line system: if the defendant is charged in court, the defendant is guilty, and the court process is to determine swift resolution of the case - rather than seeking justice.

Plea bargains are the crux of the Crime Control model, and all cases are moved quickly down the line to resolve the case as swiftly as possible - rather than providing constitutionally required due process for the defendants that have allegedly committed a crime and are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

DUE PROCESS IN THE CONSTITUTION

The US Constitution itself is based upon the early 13th century English document, the Magna Carta, in which King John guaranteed that "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."

Accordingly, our founding fathers included these same protections for the people of the United States, through the Due Process clauses found within the US Constitution. 

Both the 5th and 14th amendments include the right to not be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process:

5th Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

14th Amendment - All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Despite that the crime control model is in direct violation of the US Constitution, I have learned through the years, that many courts follow this model. Drug Courts are one of these crime control models. I learned early in - if you want Due Process in court, then you MUST DEMAND IT.

You must force them to take you to trial, force them to present evidence and witnesses, and demand your equal protections under these rights to due process.

Every citizens, no matter of which crime they are accused, has a right under these laws to confront their accuser and provide a defense. They have a right to a trial in front of their peers, and a right to cross examine witnesses and evidence - and provide their own through their defense.

So when the girl on the phone told me her answer, as if I was already pleading guilty, I immediately knew something was wrong. I said to her, "Oh no, honey, you misunderstand, I am pleading not guilty and going to jury trial."

Her response was "Oh. Well I gotta figure out the paperwork for that."

THIS WAS MY SECOND RED FLAG 

She had to figure out the paperwork? Possibly meaning this was not common for her, nor was the paperwork readily available for such a plea... so they must not have Not Guilty pleas very frequently in that court.... aka... CRIME CONTROL MODEL

She said we would have to come into the court house, so I asked if we could come in earlier than the time scheduled on the paperwork we had received from the jail, so we could get on the road. She told me yes, to go to the clerk's desk when we arrived and she would provide all the paperwork and schedule the pretrial hearing.

NEZ PERCE COUNTY COURT

So, Nate and I hit the road. We decided we would go south through Lewiston, and then go immediately over the border through Clarkston; to take the Washington/Oregon route back home - and avoid MOST of Idaho.
Nez Perce County Court House - Lewiston, Idaho
We arrived at the court house and started looking for the clerk's office. The old stone court house was connected to an expansion. Figuring the court would be in the old courthouse, we went into the doors of the old building. 


We walked around in circles and ended up coming out the door to the expanded part of the building, and still couldn't find the clerks office or any signs with directions. So, I asked a lady standing behind a counter - in what looked like a DMV office - where we could locate the clerk of the court. She sent us back to the old building, and told us to go up the staircase at the end of a hall.

All of the court rooms and clerks office are located on the second story of the old building. It was around noon, and all of the court clerks were eating their lunches when we arrived. It took a moment for someone to notice us standing at the window. A girl finally came over and asked how she could help. We explained what we wanted to do and she started looking through a computer in front of her.

The clerk seemed to be having trouble finding us, and then another girl came over and asked her what she was doing. She explained, and the second girl took over for her. This girl seemed to know exactly what she was looking for, so I asked if she was who I had spoken with that morning. She said yes, so I asked her name; and she told me it was Kayla.

Kayla printed off some paperwork and gave it to each of us to sign to receive our new court date. We requested that they be the same day and time, since we had to travel together to get there, and she obliged. I also requested it be at the beginning of the month, since I only get paid by Social Security once a month, and once again she very kindly obliged.

Kayla then asked if I was pleading not guilty to the traffic citation of "failure to use a turn signal" as well, and I said, "No, I'll plead guilty to that one" and take responsibility for my car being quirky. It was only a $90 fine.

She gave me the paperwork for that, and as I was signing I finally realized what day it was: November 12th, 2019.... exactly six years from the date that Spokane County Juvenile Court Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur had set the permanency plan for our Princess Lilly to be adoption. It hadn't clicked before, so I pointed it out to Nate, and made a comment about the weirdness of idiosyncrasies in life events like that. 

Kayla gave us our paperwork for the misdemeanor charges, with a pre-trial court date for December 3rd, 2019. She also gave me a post-it with the Prosecutor's number, and told me I could call them to "work out a plea deal." 

THIS WAS MY THIRD RED FLAG

I knew that was not going to ever happen. Instead, I would be insisting upon Due Process and likely have to fight the prosecutor the entire time - as it goes with adversaries in court. So, I kind of just grinned at her and said okay. 

We thanked her for her help and left the courthouse.

The entire courthouse, and experience with the court clerk and process, reminded me very much of many of the rural courts I've witnessed as a family advocate for CPS cases. Specifically, it reminded me of Malheur County Court in Eastern Oregon, where I helped a family learn how to fight back against wrongful neglect allegations over their legal Medical Marijuana grow.  

No metal detectors or security... assumption of guilt... "Good ol' Boys Club" mentality... 

Small courts like this seem to thrive on plea bargains through the Crime Control model, and I had a feeling that when we came back, I would probably be witness to even more red flags of corruption

We hit the road again and took a weird, backwoods route through the mountains of Eastern Washington/Oregon - only because neither of us had ever taken that route and it's fun to go places you've never been. We ended up on a very "crooked road" that took us through canyons and up a mountain. The switchbacks and gravity was killing my bladder again, so we stopped at the top so I could relieve it.

The viewpoint at the rest area was gorgeous.... and definitely a beautiful way to end our very interesting adventure. We continued our journey home, knowing we would be headed back very soon to start our new adventures in North Idaho Weed Court. 


Joseph Canyon, Oregon

Monday, January 27, 2020

My Adventures in Weed Court 2.0


I haven't wanted to write this blog. I've been avoiding it, and always prioritizing something above it. Because there are parts that hurt my heart to even think about, much less tell the world.

But I know I must talk about it. Even if it hurts. Even if it makes me feel bad.
Even if it makes me feel ashamed.

Because if we remain silent about the injustices we witness, then evil wins.

That evil is the corruption that is among us.
That evil has many faces.

It is the face of the CPS cases that I fight in family law, as well as the face of Cannabis Prohibition. It is the face of many officials in the police, the courts and the criminal justice system. It is in the flaws in our system, through the pain and suffering of nonviolent people, that this corruption is continued through our society.

It is because of unjust and archaic laws, and because of the ignorant and arrogant actions of many involved, that many people are harmed and forced to struggle in an already difficult existence.

I haven't wanted to write this blog, because I never believed that I would be the one I was writing about in a situation like this. I have written about my own life and my own cases, including my Adventures in Weed Court in Southern Idaho (See My Adventures in Weed Court 1234, 5, 6789 & 10.); and my own struggles with my debilitating bladder condition, interstitial cystitis.

I have written about my family's fight to get Princess Lilly from CPS, and I have written about the trials and tribulations of other families in the same regard through my work with Medical Kidnap.

I have helped to share and expose situations where police officers mistreat others, violating their constitutional rights and their humanity; and even written about my own interactions with such corruption. But never has it been such a violation of decency directly affecting my own life, and never has it impacted me so greatly.

What I am ashamed of has nothing to do with abuse or police brutality in a physical sense. What happened to me is likely super inconsequential to others, but such a brutal trauma in my life because of how my life has been for the last 18 years, living with a painful bladder disorder. What I am ashamed of - I cannot change. I know I cannot change what happened, and it could not have happened any differently because of my disability, and because of the choices of the people involved.

The humiliation and trauma that I feel because of what happened is nothing like the trauma compared to those who have been physically harmed, or even killed by prohibition. My loss is nothing compared to those who have lost their lives or their families to this War on Drugs, such as in "No Knock Raids";  the Victims of the Drug War, or sweet angel, Alexandria Hill, who lost her life in CPS custody over allegations of her father's Medical Marijuana use.

But it is still not okay that it happened to me. And it has greatly messed with my head since it did. I just don't understand how people can treat other people the way I was recently treated by officers in North Idaho.

Their lack of humanity has wounded my heart.

As much as I wish I could just end it all as soon as possible through a plea deal, and never think of it again, the importance of changing this system outweighs my desires to make it go away quickly. And in order for things to change, and the only way things like this won't happen to other people like me, I must share the story and fight back against the injustice I have encountered.

Despite my humiliation and shame.

As my dear friend, John, told me when it first happened - either it has power over me, or I have power over it.

I must talk about what happened to take away it's power... and take back mine.

So here's what happened: (I'm sorry it's so long. I will break it into parts...)

ADVENTURES IN WEED COURT 2.0 - North Idaho

Many know that I have three children - 2 boys and our beautiful princess Lilly. My oldest will be 20 years old next week, and is currently attending University for Computer Science. I placed him in an open adoption when I was 17; and he was raised by a wonderful family in the Seattle area. Since he graduated high school, and became an adult, our relationship has grown. We have the chance to start getting to know each other better. When he decided to attend a college that is a lot closer to me, I was ecstatic. I get to visit with him more frequently than before!

I've visited him several times since he began going to school up north, and I had planned to go visit him in early November, but decided to delay the plans due to an extreme family loss. My younger son, turned 17 at the end of October. On his birthday, we were given the most devastating news - We had lost my 16 year-old nephew, my sister's son Kyler, to a tragic car accident.

Kyler was killed from a head injury caused by being struck by a vehicle. He had been riding with a friend in downtown Boise on one of those Lime Scooters and was struck as they went through a cross walk.

It was devastating and my family was coping as best we could. The weeks that followed was extremely difficult for everyone in my family, especially my sister.

So we spent the time taking care of her and being together as a family.

We laid Kyler to rest on November 1st.

The loss is still devastating and the grief is extremely hard to bear.

After experiencing such grief, I had decided that I definitely wanted to see my oldest son - sooner rather than later.

In moments of loss and grief, you just want to hug your loved ones tighter.
Especially your children.

ROAD TRIP TO MOSCOW, IDAHO

So, a week later, on November 8th, 2019; my son's biological father, Nate, and I traveled up north to Moscow, so we could visit our son together for the first time since he started college.

While we were up north, we would also be visiting my dear friends, Ryan Augusta and Arlene Falcon; both of whom live in the area. Ryan is one of the directors of Boise Hempfest, and Arlene Falcon runs Moscow Hempfest. I usually only ever get to see them about once a year, so I was definitely excited to be visiting outside of our normal activism work.

It was going to be a full couple of days!

Nate Howell
(my baby daddy & bff)
Nate and I have been friends for nearly twenty-one years. For our son's sake, we refused to let each other go after placing our baby for adoption and our relationship ended. We were children, who had a child, and we grew up together - seeing each other frequently through the years. We've visited our son dozens of times throughout his life, but, unfortunately, not always together. We hadn't seen our son together since he had graduated high school the year before, and we attended his graduation together.

(I am a proud mama and love to brag how my baby boy is now in college and in his 2nd year of Computer Science.)

This was an exciting trip for us; and it would be the first time the three of us would all be together, without anyone else there - (his adoptive parents, my other children, friends, family, etc)

That morning, I had left my temporary abode in Oregon and picked up Nate in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho; where he currently lives and volunteers as a fire fighter/EMT, (He was formerly Chief of the Horseshoe Bend Fire Department before he stepped down due to time constraints. His other job as a driver for a designated driving service in Boise need more attention. Nate is an awesome person who has always gone out of his way to help others!)

White Bird Hill, Idaho Viewpoint
From there, we traveled north through the Idaho Mountains, the fastest way to Moscow from where we live in the south. We had been traveling all day and were anxious to get to Moscow for the night.

We stoped in Lapwai, just outside of Lewiston, for Nate to buy something to drink. I had thoughts that I should use the bathroom while we were there, but it wasn't urgent and I was in a hurry - knowing that with my condition a quick trip to the bathroom could turn into a half hour wait.

So I skipped the bathroom, and we headed on our way.

THE TRAFFIC STOP

It was little after 5pm PST, when we were headed into Lewiston, on Hwy 12. It was dark by this time, and I was distracted looking for the exit to Hwy 95 - the route to Moscow. Apparently, I missed the changing speed limit signs, and kept going 60 mph as I found the exit to go north. I took the exit and headed up the Lewiston hill, where I saw the speed limit sign for 45 miles per hour.

My 2002 Mustang does not like to slow down while going up hills, so as I slowed, I was likely going even less than 45 mph as we pushed up the hill. This is when an ISP trooper pulled me over. It took a minute, because I didn't know the road very well, but I found a semi-level spot off the shoulder. I turned off the car, set the parking break, but kept my foot on the manual brake since we were on a hill, and the officer's car was behind me.

Trooper Braeden Hammon approached the passenger side window. He was young, and could not have been much older than the son we were going to visit - maybe mid-twenties. Braeden told me that his reasons for the stop was speeding and failure to use my turn signal.

ISP Trooper Braeden Hammon - Cruiser #406
I hadn't realized I had been speeding so I told Braeden I didn't know. My car does have issues with the turn signal sometimes, so I asked him to check if they were working. (I drive a rebuilt Mustang convertible, with a salvaged title; and it definitely has quirks like that. Sometimes the blinkers just stop working and then start again.)

I gave him my Oregon driver's license and Idaho registration for the Mustang.

I had just renewed my insurance policy through Geico a few days before and didn't have my new insurance card yet. So I began searching for it in the email on my phone.

Where we were parked, between the hills, I wasn't getting good reception and it took a minute for the email app to load on my phone.

During this time, Braeden started asking questions about whether there was anything in the vehicle. He told us that he was working with a K9 and wanted to know if he brought the dog there, would it alert on the vehicle?

Nate informed him that he had a gun in his suitcase, for protection on our trip, and Braeden joked about it being Idaho, and not caring about that.

Then Braeden asked me why I was shaking.

I suffer from myofacial spasms, related to my bladder condition, so I am always shaking a little bit - especially when I'm low on meds. I was also nervous, of course, call it PTSD from my previous ordeals with officers in Southern Idaho. And as many who follow my work against CPS know - and what I confirmed from this incident - I also shake terribly in the presence of corruption. (facebook video of interaction with corruption in Oregon CPS) Braeden pointed out that my leg was shaking a lot more than my hands, and I felt even more pressure from the break I was pressing. My leg was definitely shaking more and more, the longer I attempted to hold the break down.

I explained my medical condition and my concern for taking my foot off the break on the hill. Braeden said something about not letting it roll back into his police cruiser. As I finished pulling up my insurance email on the phone, I heard Braeden talking to dispatch through his ear piece, and heard him specifically request they send a canine.

I asked him what he said.

At first, Braeden said that he was just talking to his buddies, avoiding my question. Then, out came the mom voice, "Okay, but what did you say?!" I demanded to know, as if I was talking to my child. He finally told us that he had called in a canine.

Nate asked what probable cause he had, and Braeden started talking about my shaking again - saying that it was suspicious and his probable cause.

We hadn't even been stopped for more than a few minutes, and he hadn't yet run my name and registration, but he was calling in a canine after a minute of interaction? I knew this to be wrong, so I immediately invoked my rights to be free of illegal searches and seizures, and mentioned the Supreme Court had already ruled officers cannot delay traffic stops to bring in a canine without probable cause.

Braeden started arguing with me, and told me that "it's different in Idaho."

So I told him that I was invoking my rights, that there was nothing further to discuss if he didn't wish to discuss the traffic stop, and rolled up the windows. I immediately called my friend, Ryan; who was waiting for us to arrive in Moscow and had texted recently asking where we were. I told Ryan what was happening and asked him to stay on the phone as a witness.

ISP Trooper Seth Green
After about 10 minutes, another officer knocked on the window. I told Nate to start recording on his phone. Nate rolled the window down, and the officer introduced himself as part of the ISP Quad City Drug Task force.

His name was Trooper Seth Green.

Seth asked if there was anything in the vehicle that a canine would smell.

I told him I don't know.

He asked why I didn't know, so I explained I am a medical marijuana patient in Oregon so I didn't know for certain, because I didn't know if something had fallen somewhere or something stupid like that.

He responded, "So there is only weed in the car?"
I told him I didn't say there was anything in the car.
I repeated I DON'T KNOW if it would smell for the dog.

I invoked my rights again, and rolled up the windows.

After this, we sat in the parked vehicle, engine off, and watched as Braeden placed spike strips in front of my car. After even more time, they finally brought in the drug dog for a search. We didn't hear what they were saying, but we saw the officer patting the car numerous times and the dog going to each spot.

I commented to Nate how absurd it is that all of this was just for little ol' disabled me and my marijuana, just miles away from the Washington border - where Marijuana has been legal for almost a decade.

HELD AT GUNPOINT & THREATENED WITH VIOLENCE

Then it turned into deja vu of my Ada County case. Multiple officers surrounding the car, knocking on my window, yelling at me to roll them down and get out of the car. Repeatedly threatening to break the window if I didn't do what they said.

EXACTLY what had happened in the Resisting and Obstructing charge from 2015 - of which I was just acquitted 2 years ago because the jury agreed that this isn't Nazi Germany and (at least in the eyes of the people) - cops do need probable cause and warrants to search cars.

Having just done this in Boise, I knew that at this point it didn't matter what my rights were. I was surrounded by multiple officers, and these armed men didn't care about my rights. They wanted into the car, and were going to do what they wanted, even if it violated my constitutional rights. (Reading the discovery later, at this point, we were also being held at GUN POINT by Tpr. Seth Green)

I finally rolled the window down a bit to try to de-escalate the situation, while continuing to invoke my rights. When the window was down far enough, Braeden reached into the window and unlocked the door, and then opened the door.

I knew if I didn't allow Braeden to open the door, they were going to use violence and force. They would break the window and shatter glass all over me and Nate. No matter which direction they came from, it would go everywhere inside my tiny Mustang. They would also forcibly grab me and rip me from the vehicle - which would then cause me excruciating pain because of my bladder; which was definitely full and hurting at this point, with stress being my biggest trigger of symptoms.

Or they could possibly even shoot me if one of them had an itchy trigger finger and decided I was a threat in their eyes (had I known we were actually being held at gun point by Tpr Green, this would have been a much larger concern.) I didn't know these men, or what they might be capable of, and of course we've all heard the horror stories.

So I told the officers I would comply but that I just needed them to be patient because of my disability. It causes me pain to be forcibly moved.

I told them Ryan was on the phone, and he started to introduce himself, as I began to cite the 4th amendment to the video recording. They interrupted us both, and again demanded I get out of the car. I explained I wanted to ensure my rights were invoked, and reminded them again that I am disabled, so it would take some time for me to get out. I also explained that if they were putting me in handcuffs then I would need help to walk to where ever it was they wanted me to go and not to pull me forcibly. (Gravity and I don't get along, and we were on a steep hill).

Nate had already been removed from the car on the other side. They placed me in handcuffs, and surprisingly, weren't extremely forceful as they took me to Braeden's car - where ISP Tpr. Tauna Tyler, and several other officers, surrounded me as I tried to explain my disability and they changed my handcuffs from the front to the back.

There were at least 6 officers there by now, and I watched as they - like little adrenaline junkies - excitedly searched my car without my consent, and without probable cause or a warrant. Then, once again in complete deja vu of my 2015 case - I was verbally charged with Resisting and Obstructing, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Paraphernalia. My heart sank as I watched them take away a month's supply of medicine (dab oil and some joints).

After they were done searching my car, Tpr. Tyler tried to put me into the back of Braeden's car, still with my hands in cuffs behind my back. The moment I sat in that position on the hard plastic seat, I had intense stabbing pain in my bladder and abdomen. Tpr Tyler noticed my exclamation of pain and asked what was wrong. I told her I couldn't sit in that position without it causing problems. She was very nice, and found an officer with an SUV that could potentially transport me without the pain. She even held my arm so I wouldn't fall down the hill as I tried to walk 6 car lengths away to where it was located, while in immense pain and with zero balance because of my hands behind my back.

Once we got there, it caused even more pain to sit in the seat of the SUV. When I told her, Tpr Tyler told me she didn't know what else to do, so I requested an EMT be called. At this point, Braeden insisted that I be placed in the back of his car so he could just take us to the jail. He was apparently in a hurry about something else and had to go. I told him I needed an EMT. When he obviously started to get upset with my answer, I told him whatever, just do it.

They put me back in the original car, and Tpr Tyler told me I could sit sideways to try to alleviate the pain. This time Nate was also in the back of the car. They were charging him as well, and impounding my car. I begged for it to be released to Ryan, who I knew would come and get it so I didn't have to pay impound fees. I only had money for the trip, and the money I was saving for one of my college courses and for Christmas presents for my kids.

I was already going to have to bail out, and lose all my Christmas money. But I really needed the money it would cost for the impound so I could at least stay in school.

Of course, they didn't listen to me, so we went to the jail with Braeden. I had warned him that when we hit bumps, I might make noise from pain. It is extremely difficult for me to ride in vehicles when I am having complications of my condition. As we took off, he fishtailed into the center lane, where we were almost hit by a car coming down the hill. He tried to pull out again really fast, and barely missed another car before stopping again. I realized he was young, and was going to drive like a teenager, so I just held my breath when the pain came, and pushed through to the jail as much as I could without crying out. As we made our way, I could feel the familiar urgency and pain that comes with a full IC bladder. I knew I needed a bathroom soon or I would lose control.

For the last 18 years of suffering this condition, that includes extreme symptoms of urgency and incontinence, I have been able to pride myself on always making it to the bathroom in time; because I listen to my body.

In that moment, my body was screaming at me.

I notified Braeden that I would need a female officer to immediately assist me with the bathroom as soon as we got there. He ignored my request. I distracted myself the rest of the way to the Nez Perce County Jail by talking with Nate about how fucked up the whole situation was; knowing Braeden could hear me and was likely recording. I would be able to get the audio through discovery, later.

DENIAL OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

Once we got into the Sally Port at the Nez Perce County Jail, Braden removed me from the car first. We went in one set of doors into a little room connected to the booking area.

Here, a young female officer (later identified as Deputy Ashley Morrow) was waiting. I asked her, "are you here to take me to the bathroom?"

She told me that we had to do a pat search first.

I told her to please hurry, I really needed to use the bathroom or I would lose control. Other officers came into the little room - so now there were at least 3 men standing in the room in front of me, including Braeden; plus Ashley doing the search.

As she did the pat search, I had intense shooting pain, from my bladder down into my urethra, another urgent and telltale sign that I needed to use the bathroom immediately. I instinctively grabbed my groin and was yelled at to put my hands back on the wall. I did so, and crossed my legs to avoid an accident. They forced me to uncross them and I started crying. It was becoming too much. I pleaded again for a bathroom.

Ashley finished the pat search and then told me I had to take off my jewelry and go do a strip search. I objected, and again told her how urgently I needed to use the bathroom. I requested reasonable accommodations as a disabled person.

I explained I was disabled with a bladder condition and that I would lose control of my functions if I didn't use the bathroom immediately.

She demanded I first take off every single piece of jewelry I was wearing.

For context, I typically wear nine different bracelets on my wrists, six rings, a necklace and 4 earrings. Usually the same ones every time I put them on -- all sentimental treasures I've collected on my journey through life.

Some of my jewelry from that night...
I started begging for the bathroom. The jewelry could wait. Ashley again told me no.

I tried to comply again, this time asking for Ashley's assistance in removing bracelets I'd received from my Dad after he took a ministry trip to Kenya - to build mud houses for the poor, ten years ago. They are long beaded necklaces that I had wrapped into bracelets around my wrists, one on each side.

They have tiny twist clasps and need two hands to remove them, but one of my hands was busy holding my groin area to prevent the unintended evacuation of my bladder.

Every time I had to grab myself to avoid a loss of bladder function, I was yelled at to take off the jewelry. I started begging and pleading. I tried to cooperate, and started again to remove my jewelry.

Suddenly, I felt the urge to urinate even more intensely and knew I was about to lose control. I sat down to prevent it from happening. They yelled at me to get back up. I put my head back against the wall, and saw a security camera in the corner of the room. Great, I thought, this embarrassing moment would be caught on tape. How humiliating!

I looked at each of the officers standing in front of me. I realized they were all men so I begged Ashley to at least have other female officers in the room instead if they were going to make me lose control in front of them. I was told again to stand up, so I did.

This time knowing, I wouldn't be able to keep control.

Then it happened.
My worst fear as a disabled person with an life altering bladder condition.
I lost control.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.
The humiliation, the shame, the inability to control my own body.

Feelings I have struggled with since this pain began 18 years ago.

Feelings I had never felt so deeply until that moment.
I wanted to runaway and hide from this group of men just staring at me.

I fell to the floor again. This time bawling.
I heard one officer exclaim, "Tell us what is happening!"
So I did. And that it didn't matter anymore.
I asked if they were happy now.

With Ashley's help, and now that the urgency was over, I was finally able to remove the remainder of my jewelry. Then they demanded my shoes and socks. I kicked them off, still sitting on the floor, feeling the warmth of the urine soaking my pants as I hung my head in shame.

They picked me up off the floor, and escorted me to another tiny room, where they put me inside and then locked the door behind me.

Nez Perce Sheriff Deputy, Ashley Morrow
After a few moments, a metal window on the other side of the room opened up, and Ashley was standing there.

She told me take off my clothes. If she was gonna see me naked, I at least wanted to know her name, so I asked.

She said "Deputy Morrow."

I asked what her first name was, and with a snide tone of authority, she again said "Deputy Morrow."

I shook my head sadly, and told her I would know her name soon enough.

Again, Ashley told me to take off my clothes.

I complied, handing her my wet pants, panties and the rest of my clothing as I removed them. Then she told me to spread my buttocks and cough. I told her that I still needed a bathroom and that if I did as she asked, I would lose control again.

She told me to do it anyway. I begged her for a toilet again, and sat down on a metal seat in the room, once again crying. I could hear Ashley say, "She's just sitting there and not listening to me."

The thought of those men barging into the room, with me naked and even more vulnerable than before - just to force me to comply with Ashley's demands - was enough to get me moving again. I stood up, and said, "Fine. Let's do this again."

I did as she said, and coughed, losing control again - this time directly on the floor.
Then, Ashley said to cough again.
So I did. Losing control of my bladder for the third time.

After she was satisfied, Ashley gave me faded black and white striped inmate clothing and told me to get dressed. Once I was dressed, she led me to a holding room. I was in excruciating pain at this point, and had to hold on to everything I passed just to continue walking. She seemed impatient waiting for me to catch up.

As we walked, I noticed that within ten feet of the booking cell, was a marked employee bathroom. When we passed the booking cell, I noticed that two doors down from the cell was yet another marked bathroom. I counted the holding cells as we walked through the room, at least 4 more cells - with 4 more toilets.

That was 6 toilets... 
all within 10-30 feet of the booking cell where I had been forced to lose control.

Ashley put me in one of the cells, next to the booking desk, and locked the door. She went to the desk and sat down with my purse and started going through it, documenting the contents.

The room she put me in had a hard concrete bench, and a jail toilet connected to a sink. I immediately used the bathroom, but the toilet wouldn't flush. I tried repeatedly to get it to flush. I knocked on the window to tell Ashley what was happening and then sat on the bench.

Immediately, sharp, burning hot pain ripped through my bladder. I jumped up, yelping in pain. I tried several times to sit back down, but the concrete was too hard and I couldn't sit on it without the pain returning. I knocked on the window and asked for a blanket or pillow to sit on. Ashley told me I would receive it once I was booked.

With no where to sit and rest my bladder, I clung to the ridges on the window in the cell door, and leaned all my weight against it. This was the only relief I could find from the intense pressure building inside of my abdomen. With more pressure came more pain.

I used the bathroom again. And again. And again. Each time releasing only a little bit, and unable to sit on the short, cold metal toilet for very long. By this time my stomach had ballooned into what is called IC Belly - swollen from the inflammation inside and around my bladder. I felt like I was 5 months pregnant, and probably looked it too.

Still unable to flush the toilet, I knocked on the window again to let Ashley know. I was concerned they would try to say I had purposefully clogged the toilet if I kept using toilet paper and the bowl filled up. She notified her superior (later identified as Patrick Adler) and they told me to keep trying to flush it; and then went back to what they were doing.

During this time, I saw an officer escort Nate out of a strip search cell, and put him into the cell next to me. I knocked on the wall quietly and waited for his response.

I smiled when I heard him knock back.

I watched as another deputy took a mop and bucket into the booking cell. He was one of the men who had been in the room with me when I lost control; and had obviously just cleaned up the strip search cell I was just in with Ashley.

He saw me watching him and gave me a small, sad smile.

I paced back and forth, and continued to hang on the door, still in immense pain. I knocked on the window again and asked Ashley, "Can I please have something to sit on. I absolutely need to sit. I am in pain." Once again, she told me I would receive my bedding after I was booked.

I watched another deputy pull Nate out of his cell, and ask him questions for the booking process. I heard the deputy give him a cordless phone to call the local bail bonds company. I tried to tell him through the door that I would take care of it all once I was able to use a phone - I knew Nate didn't have any money - most of his work is volunteer - and luckily I had the Christmas and school money.

Ashley yelled at me not to talk to him.

After about an hour of hanging on the door, watching Ashley sit at the control desk, slowly going through my purse, and chatting with her co-workers, I asked again for something soft to sit on.

Again, she told me not until I was booked.

I shook my head, noticing two blankets sitting on the counter directly behind her. I knocked again and asked if I could please use one of those. Ashley ignored me.

So I knocked again, and this time she said "What!?!" obviously frustrated to have to talk to me.

I said, "You could be nicer" and stared at her. She gave me a look like she was seriously thinking about what I had said, so I walked away from the window.

After I had used the bathroom half a dozen more times, I knocked again and told Ashley that the toilet was still not working, and my concerns that they would think I was clogging it because I kept having to use the bathroom. Finally, Adler went into the next room and tried to "turn it on." When I told him it still wasn't working, he opened the door and tested it for himself - as if he thought I was lying.

With Adler in front of me, I asked for something soft to sit on. I tried to explain my disability and he interrupted me, asking if I had a "disability card." This is when I realized they didn't believe that I am actually disabled. I replied "there is no such thing, but Deputy Morrow will find my disability award letter from the Social Security Administration... if she ever finishes going through my purse" - motioning at Ashley in the doorway of the cell.

Adler just ignored me, and then told Ashley to put me into a cell with a working toilet. They transferred me to another one, on the other side of Nate's cell. As they were transferring me to the larger cell, I told Ashley I needed to see the medical staff.

Again, she said - "not until you're booked."

At least in this new cell, I had more space to walk around, and a working toilet. I still couldn't sit on the concrete bench, but in that moment, the toilet was my best friend. I used it many times in the hours of waiting that followed. I killed time by tapping patterns back and forth with Nate through the wall.

After a bit, I watched as they led Nate to a little room on the other side of my cell.
A few minutes later, they took him back to his cell.

Awhile later, Ashley knocked on my window, holding up a vape cartridge she had found in my purse. I had completely forgotten it was in there. She asked if it had Marijuana in it and I replied that I don't answer questions. (Nate told me later he overheard them trying to decide if they should charge me with a felony for bringing it into the jail - despite that it was Braeden who brought my purse in with me. I hadn't touched it since getting out my license at the beginning of the stop.)

She came back a bit later, and this time asked what my bladder condition was called.
Interesting, I thought, NOW they want to know? I told her it is called Interstitial Cystitis


After a great deal of time passed, Ashley finally opened the door and told me I was being booked.

It had been hours since we had arrived at the jail, and almost as much time since Nate had been booked and received his phone call. I could tell early in that they were deliberately delaying my booking. I assumed that in their eyes, especially since realizing they didn't believe I am disabled, all my requests for accommodations was me being uncooperative - and the delay in booking was my punishment.

When I got to the desk, Ashley presented me with a list of things she had found in my purse. I read through them, noting that, even though it took her hours to go through it, she obviously hadn't documented EVERYTHING in my purse. (I jokingly call it the "black-hole" - as most women know, a purse becomes a "catch all" especially with children around. It contained a lot of random stuff that day.)

Ashley told me to sign at the bottom. I looked to where my name was with a signature line, and saw her full name and another signature line right next to it. "It's nice to meet you, Ashley" I said, inflecting on her first name. (I had told her I would learn it soon enough. The look on her face confirmed she hadn't realized how soon that would be, or that she would be the one to give it to me.)

As I was standing there, another woman walked up. She was a bit older than me, and wearing nurses scrubs. I asked if she was with Medical. She told me yes and started asking questions about IC. I told her about my condition, and answered her questions. When she asked what I used for pain, I told her I am a Medical Marijuana patient and that nothing helps me, except for the Cannabis the cops had now stolen from me. She offered me over the counter aspirin, which I declined, explaining that it would only make my condition worse.

I asked for a heating pad, or something to help with the swelling, showing her my extended belly. She said she could get me a hotpack, and then ordered that I could have aspirin if I was booked into the main jail. She said she would check to see if I was still there when she came back for her shift after the holiday. I told her that I was bailing out and, no offense to her, but I hoped I would never see her again after that night.

When I got back to the cell, they had finally put some bedding and a mattress pad on the concrete bench. I laid out the pad and sat down, and then jumped up, immediately in pain again. The pad was too thin. I doubled it over, topped it with all the bedding, and was finally able to sit down semi-comfortably - as long as I put most of my weight on the wall behind me.

(Nate informed me later that he NEVER received his bedding, even after being booked way earlier than me. When he told me this, I wondered if maybe they had started to realize that they actually had fucked up... but it was definitely too late if they had.)

At approximately 10:00 pm, after almost 4 hours of waiting, Ashley finally brought me a phone to call the bail bondsman. My first call was to my youngest son, who (thank god!) was at home in Oregon. I had to make sure he was alright and tell him what was happening. When he didn't answer, I called a friend to try to check up on him (it was 11:00pm his time and was probably sleeping.) Then I called Ryan, who said he would co-sign to bail us out and had already been in touch with the bail bondsman that Nate had called hours earlier. He told me which bail bonds company to call, so I did that next.

Once I had that phone, everything went very quickly. After the bondsman ran my credit card for almost $400, he said he'd have us out in about 45 minutes. I was happy to be getting out, but extremely saddened because all of the Christmas money for my kids was now gone.

As I was waiting, I called my son again and finally reached him. After that, I wasn't anxious to let go of the phone and the connection to the outside world. I called another friend, and then Ryan once more - who told me he was on his way.

I finally gave the phone back to Ashley, and then tapped excitedly on the wall, hoping Nate would understand what it meant - WE WERE GETTING OUT! (He told me later he knew what it meant the moment he heard me knock. Apparently, Adler had told him I wouldn't be bailing him out, because I only had twenty dollars in my purse. He had also noticed that they were delaying my booking and phone call, so he was a bit concerned for awhile and grateful to hear an excited knock.)

I started feeling better, emotionally if not yet physically; and decided to be productive with the unexpected time on my hands. I started writing notes on the paperwork Ashley had given me when I had finally been booked. The nurse showed up again with my "hot pack." She handed me a ziplock baggy with a wet medical cloth inside. It was cold to the touch. I told her it wouldn't help because it was cold, I needed heat to make my muscles relax. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, "I did what I could" as she left.

After they locked the door again, I randomly tossed the bag to the other side of the cell - and called it worthless - and then continued to take notes about what had happened. I had told them all several times that I am going to sue the fuck out of them for their denial of reasonable accommodations, and I wanted to make sure I had all the information correctly documented.

(I'm also currently using these notes to write this blog.)

At some point, the deputy that had cleaned up my mess in the booking cell and strip search area came by the window, obviously doing checks. He locked eyes with me and gave me that same sad smile, and a thumbs up. Out of everyone I encountered, he was the only one who actually treated me like he was also ashamed of what had happened, and felt bad for me.

After the 45 minutes of waiting was almost up, Ashley and Adler opened the door and took me into a little room next to my cell, where they finally took my fingerprints and my photo. I noticed on the computer screen that there were only two people in the list in front of me: Nate, and his cellmate - a guy who had come in around the time we had arrived at the jail. He had eventually either been put into general population, or released. Both had been booked several hours earlier. I had not seen another inmate come into the booking area from outside nor seen anyone else waiting to be booked like I had been waiting for so long.

They put me back in the cell. Within minutes, I heard them take Nate out of his cell. A few minutes later, Ashley came back to mine. Still aching terribly, but not in as much pain as before, I slowly followed her back to the strip search room; where she gave me my freshly laundered clothes.

Then Ashley escorted me back to the desk, where she had me sign paperwork to be released and a copy of my court date (for Tuesday, Nov. 12th). Then she led me to another room - where Ryan, Nate and the bondsman were waiting. As she opened the door to let me in, I told her it was an unfortunate way to meet her, but I would see her in court soon. She gave me kind of a bewildered look.

As soon as they were within my grasp, I hugged Ryan and Nate as hard as I could and started crying again, trying as usual to hold back my tears. I had told Ryan what happened over the phone, and he had brought me extra clothes, in case I needed them. So, I hugged him again.

Some paperwork and a few moments later, we were finally free. It was almost midnight as we breathed in fresh air, and slowly walked to Ryan's car.

It would be the next day before I could bail out my car. Ryan drove us to Moscow - where I barely slept. To occupy my mind, I started researching the American Disabilities Act, and Department of Justice's strict requirements of local jails and detention facilities.

This is what I found:


Included is a statement from the Department of Justice, that lists an accessible toilet; not just once, but TWICE - as being a strict requirement of all correctional facility compliance with the ADA:


I felt a bit better knowing I had some sort of legal recourse for what had just happened at the jail. They had repeatedly denied me an accessible toilet, which was necessary for my bladder condition. The nurse had also denied proper medical treatment. They had either intentionally violated the ADA because they didn't believe I am disabled, or didn't know they were required to follow the ADA when they encountered someone who is disabled - BOTH of which are extremely fucked up scenarios and not how disabled Americans should be treated. 

My heart was hurting from the lack of empathy or awareness of the officers.

Even ISP Trooper Braeden Hammon had just sat there watching as I begged them all for reasonable accommodations and repeatedly told them I am considered a disabled adult child (because my disability began before the age of 22).

I could not even begin to process the thought that NOT ONE SINGLE OFFICER in that booking cell had asked the question "Maybe we should get her to a bathroom?" 

Where was the decency and humanity? I began to question all of society.
If this was how the system treats vulnerable people, can it even be changed?

I replayed it over and over in my mind. I wondered how they would have felt if they were me... what they would have done in that situation. I wondered how they would have felt, and what they would have done, if it were their wife, or their mother, or their daughter; instead of me.

How would they feel about someone they love being treated with such disrespect and apathy by public servants who are supposedly there to "protect and serve." 

Every single person alive knows what it is like to urgently need a bathroom.
With IC, it is so much more. It is pure and unrelenting agony.

Combined with the grief I was still suffering from the loss of my nephew in the weeks before, my heart was aching and my brain wouldn't shut up.

Finally, I cried myself to sleep as the sun started to come up.

The next morning, after a few hours of sleep, Ryan took us back to Lewiston to find my car. It cost almost as much to bail out my car as it did to bail out both me and Nate. And now all of my school money was gone, too. I cried as I pulled the cash from the ATM... I needed it to pay for one of my Applied Psychology classes in order to continue with my program. At this point, I was beginning to realize that I was going to have to withdraw from school until this was all finished; so I can save up the money again.

The money I did have left was needed to get us home again -
plus I needed to buy more meds.

Though, there was a silver lining in the entire thing - when we got back into the car after paying the impound lot, I discovered the officers had not actually taken my dab pen (vaporizer) as I had thought. I also found a cigarette pack on the driver's seat, obviously set there during the search of my vehicle and belongings; and it had 1/2 a joint inside. At least I had a little medicine left and didn't have the quite costly expense of replacing my medical device.



But now we had to extend our visit for two extra days - because Monday was a holiday (Veteran's Day) and we had to wait until Tuesday, November 12th, to go to the court house to make our pleas of not guilty.

I had thought to hire an attorney to appear for us, but it was the holiday weekend and I couldn't reach anyone. I only had a few hundred dollars left - and meals, gas, and meds were going to take up the rest of my money.

So we ended up staying with friends, and waiting the two extra days. I called my dad and told him what had happened, and had him go be with my son for awhile since I was going to be delayed. Being stuck in Idaho is not very much fun when you want to leave really badly, but we still had a good time! We went bowling, and to a local bar for live music. We were goofy and tried to enjoy the adventure, despite everything we were feeling. Anything to get our minds off of what had happened!



I was ecstatic for the extra time with our son, but anxious to get home again - where I would no longer be considered a criminal for choosing a better quality of life than what opiates offer.

We had already decided we would absolutely NOT be traveling home through Idaho. It was a much longer route, but Washington and Oregon were much safer for my health. I had hope that we could just call the Nez Perce County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, and maybe do the plea over the phone since we weren't even in Lewiston any more. Then we could head home earlier than the hearing time we had been given for that afternoon.

However, that is not what happened.
TO BE CONTINUED....