Nehass found unfit to stand trial

In court Friday Judge Michael Cozens said it would be unfair to force someone to defend themselves in court if they can’t participate in the process rationally.

A Yukon Territorial Court judge has found Michael Nehass unfit to stand trial.

In court Friday Judge Michael Cozens said it would be unfair to force someone to defend themselves in court if they can’t participate in the process rationally.

Cozens said he is satisfied that Nehass suffers from a major mental disorder, based not only on reports from a psychiatrist, but also Nehass’s own behaviour in court.

The judge said being fit to stand trial is more than just having a rudimentary understanding of how court works.

Cozens used the example of a connect-the-dots drawing. It’s not enough for Nehass to be able to recognize the numbers, he said. He also needs to be able to connect them in order and colour in the lines.

At the heart of the issue is trial fairness, Cozens said.

Nehass is facing a string of charges from his time both inside and outside the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

But he believes his incarceration is part of a vast scandal that includes high-ranking officials in many levels of government.

He has accused jail staff of forcibly sterilizing him, trying to poison him and implanting nano chips into the heads of inmates.

Cozens said Nehass’s beliefs overwhelm his ability to participate in court. The judge said Nehass cannot maintain rational connections for long periods of time.

After the judge made his decision, Nehass told the court he plans to appeal.

“This is not over. I am not crazy. What you’re doing is wrong,” he said.

Nehass’s case was brought into the public spotlight after he was brought naked to a video court appearance earlier this year, shackled and pinned to the floor by jail guards in full riot gear.

His father has since filed a human rights complaint, alleging that his son has been kept in solitary confinement for 28 months.

The Department of Justice denies that claim.

Linda Bonnefoy of the Yukon Civil Liberties Society spoke to the judge near the end of the hearing. She called the decision “a way to whitewash” the treatment Nehass has received at the jail.

Cozens told Bonnefoy that details of Nehass’s time in segregation are not before the court. The judge said he was aware that a human rights complaint had been filed.

A woman who identified herself as a member of Nehass’s family also spoke. She said Nehass has never had any problems with his mind.

Nehass’s case has now been sent to the Yukon Review Board. The board must hold a disposition hearing within 45 to 90 days. It will decide on treatment and review Nehass’s case periodically to reassess if he is able to stand trial. 

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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