Anonyme, Vendredi, Février 24, 2006 - 16:26

Paul Wesley Rhora and his three children filed a civil action against the
Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre and the Hamilton Police Department for
failing to acknowledge and accommodate Mr. Rhora's mental health disabilities while in custody, leading to the death of another inmate.


- Appeal for Courtroom Solidarity!

- Pack the courtroom this MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27th, 2006 at 10:30am, Court
of Appeal, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West at University Avenue

Paul Wesley Rhora and his three children filed a civil action against the
Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre and the Hamilton Police Department for
failing to acknowledge and accommodate Mr. Rhora's mental health disabilities while in custody, leading to the death of another inmate.

On June 4th, 2004 a judge dismissed their claim. The Rhora family's appeal of this judgment will be heard this coming MONDAY, February 27th.

We strongly encourage all allies and supporters of prisoners to attend. This case is important because it is capable of setting a precedent as to the standard of care police and prison authorities should render to people with mental disabilities. There is no other case like it in Canadian history as far as we are aware and it could be significant in
establishing the rights of persons in prison with mental health needs.

The focus of the appeal is the issue of establishing that the police and
the Detention Centre owed Mr. Rhora a duty of care that included acknowledging and providing care for his mental health disabilities. Authorities were informed of Mr. Rhora's mental condition and observed evidence of paranoid and violent behaviour, yet Mr. Rhora was placed in
a cell with two older smaller inmates. During a manic rage, Mr. Rhora attacked them and one later died as a result of his injuries. He was not treated for his mental crisis until five days after his initial arrest.

Systemic negligence led to the worsening of Mr. Rhora's mental crisis and the death of his cellmate, which in turn further damaged Mr. Rhora's mental health. The Police and Detention Centre will not be motivated to change until the Court holds them liable for negligence.

Please show your support -- help us fill the court!


Mr. Paul Rhora was diagnosed as suffering from a bipolar disorder in 1983. He was hospitalized and placed on medication, which he discontinued after two years due to its side effects. On the morning of March 31, 1991 during the beginning of a manic phase of his disability, Mr. Rhora
called the police and reported that he was growing marijuana. He told 911
that he was afraid that (unnamed) others were planning to attack him. He then
proceeded to tear apart his apartment; including breaking the furniture and mirrors. When the police arrived he had shards of glass in his pockets, a metal tool and a pellet pistol.

The arresting officer wanted to take Mr. Rhora for a psychiatric assessment but his Sergeant overruled him and ordered that Mr. Rhora be arrested for possession of weapon and taken into custody. Mr. Rhora's family informed the police and HWDC of Mr. Rhora's diagnosis and a number
of other inmates complained that they did not feel safe in Mr. Rhora's presence. He was not moved into a separate cell and during a manic episode on April 1, 1991 he killed one of his cellmates. He was found not criminally responsible and spent approximately 8 years in various
psychiatric facilities.

The trial judge held that the police and the detention centre were not responsible and accepted that because Mr. Rhora was living in a "bad neighborhood" it was reasonable for the police to conclude that his behavior was not unduly unusual and therefore not foreseeable. The judge
also concluded that the test for systemic negligence revolved around identifying specific negligent decisions made by identifiable individuals, and that it was unreasonable to hold the police and the Hamilton Detention Centre responsible as institutions comprised of large numbers of people.

We are arguing that the systemic lack of acknowledgment of the severity of mental health disabilities of inmates in detention, including Mr. Rhora, amounts to systemic negligence. According to the Correctional Investigator, the number of prisoners with significant mental health
problems has more than doubled in the past decade and a large proportion
never receive appropriate treatment. In 2004, another person was killed
by his cellmate in the same wing at HWDC where Mr. Rhora was detained.

This case raises issues that could have a broad impact on prisoners and other people with mental health issues who may come in contact with police. There is an urgent need for the Defendants to be held
accountable for the systemic flaws and negligence that this case has identified.


Kikélola Roach
Roach, Schwartz & Associates
688 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, ON M6C 1B1
Tel: (416) 657-1465

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