I would like to thank Jesse Winter for his May 7 story about the court appearance of Michael Nehass.
This could not have happened in Whitehorse, or did it? I believe that I have read about such things in Iraq, which led to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Surely the justice system in the Yukon does not want to make it into the international press, or should I say that I believe that the justice system of the Yukon should be exposed to the international press?
A member of the public visiting a functioning courtroom naked would surely be arrested for public indecency. How is it that at Michael’s court appearance, he was put on public display with no clothes on?
When I read between the lines of this article I do make certain assumptions which may or may not be correct. If my assumptions are not correct, then how does someone who is shackled remove his own clothes?
The guards in the riot gear have to answer one of two questions. Number one, how did Michael get into this state of undress, or number two, why was Michael not shackled then, given his nature for violent behaviour?
Would Michael’s explanation be different from that of these guards? And would he be believed?
I see nowhere in this article that Judge Gower stopped the proceedings immediately upon finding out that Michael was naked. Judge Gower should not have asked Michael any questions and he should have set a new court date.
Instead he questioned a naked defendant. I might suggest that at Michael’s next court appearance that Judge Gower and anyone on the public payroll who was present that day and did not object to this unjust display do a reversal with a fully clothed and shackled Michael and they themselves attend fully exposed.
I know that this won’t happen, and I don’t want it to happen, but it would somehow feel just. Justice spokesman Dan Cable states that “We do our best to ensure that inmates present themselves as best they can.” He needs to act and someone needs to be disciplined, or this will become the new standard for the Yukon.
In my opinion there needs to be some dismissals and/or severe reprimands and this could or should include Cable and Gower, and anyone else on the public payroll who didn’t step in to stop this despicable public display.
What answers would you expect from a humiliated inmate given that his penis was exposed? Mr. Nehass in that condition should not have been asked even one question by Judge Gower. Giving him a towel; what about giving him his clothes and a private place for him to dress himself in?
Whether Michael Nehass is a despicable person or not, he is owed an apology. This letter doesn’t even begin to address the 28 months of segregation and then the expectation from society for normal behaviour or rehabilitation.
I might suggest that this story will find its way outside of the Yukon and we would appear in a much better light to the rest of Canada and the world if we did our own accurate investigation, followed by appropriate disciplinary actions if warranted.