She says she is not an unfit mother.
Her 21/2-month stay with the anti-government Freemen happened by chance, she says, and she has been made guilty by her association with the Freemen group and the rural ranch they occupied near Jordan, Mont.Furthermore, Gloria Ward told a 3rd District Court Judge Tuesday, she's been doing some research, and the Emergency War Powers Act of 1933 and 1934 requires the state remand custody of her two daughters.
The demand to Judge Frank Noel came at the end of a hearing about custody arrangements for Wards' two daughters, Jaylynn, 8, and Courtnie, 10, who were in Ward's tow when the woman left the Freemen compound three weeks ago. A week later, 14 Freemen surrendered to the FBI to end the 81-day standoff.
There was no change in the temporary custody of the two girls, who are staying with Courtnie's father, Robert Gunn of Kearns.
In court documents filed recently, Ward formalized a long-held claim that Gunn is not the girl's father, although blood tests conducted for a paternity suit 10 years ago show he is.
In a widely publicized hearing soon after officials returned the girls to Salt Lake City, Noel gave temporary custody of both girls to Gunn. Ward, and her sister, Lynn Nielsen - who officials credited with Ward's release - protested the state's handling of the case and Noel's decision.
Ward told Noel Tuesday she recognized his as an admiralty court by the yellow fringe hanging on his courtroom's U.S. flag. She cited various tenets of the 62-year-old Emergency War Powers Act and said the act gives custody to mothers who are not immoral or unfit.
"Fringe or no fringe, this is not a military tribunal or an admiralty court. It is a court of law of the state of Utah," Noel responded. "So I deny your motion."
Gunn and his wife, Valerie, sat quietly in the courtroom Tuesday as a longer-term custody agreement dissolved upon Ward's protests. The proposal would have placed the girls in joint custody of Gunn and Steve Mangum, Jay-lynn's father, attorney Martin Tanner said.
The girls would spend most weekdays at the Gunns' Kearns home and most weekends with Mangum, who is a long-haul trucker and is out-of town during the week.
But Ward objected to the formal inclusion of Gunn's wife, Valerie, in the custody arrangement.
The proposal, submitted by attorneys for the girls' fathers, would have allowed Nielsen to see her nieces about twice a month and Ward to visit the girls only under supervision.
Kristen Brewer, a guardian ad litem who spoke on the girls' behalf, told the judge the Division of Child and Family Services can no longer supervise Ward's visits with her girls because it isn't a party to the custody case. She suggested a commercial service that charges $25 per hour.
The girls seem to be doing well in the Gunns' custody, Brewer said, although someone has told them they need to say they want to be with their mom. "They don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but they do have a number of concerns about dealing with the laws and the status."
The girls also are unnecessarily fearful about criminal prosecution due to misinformation. Brewer did not say who was misinforming the girls.
DCFS workers have reported some inappropriate comments during supervised visits, and at least one person supervising a visit was told he was being watched, she said. "This is not an acceptable situation."
These factors show that visits between Ward and the girls must continue to be closely monitored, she said.
Noel continued the temporary custody arrangement with the Gunns and ordered all parties to work out some resolution soon. "This is a temporary order. It cannot last forever," Noel said.
Ward, who also is known as Tamera Mangum, acted as her own attorney, telling Noel she had "looked far and wide for days and days and I have not been able to find a competent attorney."
She asserted her right to protest early in the informational hearing, objecting to Assistant Attorney General Craig Barlow's presence in the courtroom. "He has a personal vendetta against me," said Ward. Barlow, who spoke as a friend of the court in a temporary custody hearing in early June, said he was just doing his job.
The case has earned national attention. Nielsen and Ward have told their story to CBS' "60 Minutes" and other television news programs. Time, People and several other magazines have examined Ward's story.
Ward said Tuesday she is misunderstood. "Your Honor, I see no reason as to why my children are being taken away from me."
She presented Noel with a copy of her criminal record and said she hadn't had so much as a traffic ticket.
As she left the courtroom, Ward seemed incredulous to reporters' questions about her demands for custody.
"What kind of mother would I be if I didn't fight 100 percent for my kids?"