Update: There will be no damages trial. Richard and Kari Klassen reached their own confidential arrangements with the lawyers for the Saskatoon Police and the Saskatchewan government. A few days later, the other plaintiffs followed suit.
This reduces the opportunities for Borden and Holgate to join with those they are supposed to be suing to further damage Richard Klassen, their former client who was responsible for getting the matter to court.
Part of Richard's arrangement was that the appeal would be expedited. As of Jan. 17, 2005 they have reneged on their part of the bargain: in fact the Government has now applied for intervenor status in its own appeal.
Now that Premier Lorne Calvert and Attorney-General/Justice Minister Frank Quennell have blown off Richard Klassen's proposal for a quick and face-saving settlement, inJusticebusters have a clearer picture of the road ahead. We have thirty weeks to keep up the pressure until the damages portion of the trial which has been set for September 13. That means we have thirty weeks to keep this story in the face of a public which overwhelmingly supports us. The government also has thirty weeks to continue its sorry efforts to contain the damage. Its only strategy so far has been to stall, lie and hope that we die.
The name of this website clearly states our intention: to bust injustice. Now that we have succeeded in busting some of the perpetrators of the injustice against the Klassens and Kvellos, we are faced with the more daunting task of securing a fair sentence for those found guilty of malice.
Lawyers in Saskatchewan have, since day one, been against any accountability by those who clearly used their office to maliciously prosecute and continue to defame the Klassen/Kvello families. On hearing Judge Baynton's decision and without even having had time to read it, the prosecutors' association came out in strong defence of their members, Matt Miazga and Sonja Hansen. Their reflex action was reminiscent of the Saskatoon police union's strong defence of Hatchen and Munson, the officers who made Darryl Night famous by trying to kill him. The police came out in force to the trial, many in uniform, led by then union head Al Stickney.
The prosecutors' association is of about the same mentality as the police union was then (they have since cleaned up their act considerably). They have brought out the former heads of this and that, including the Dean of Law from the University of Saskatchewan. They use the force of rhetoric -- condescending rhetoric -- to say the same thing that Attorneys General have been saying to us for thirteen years: the system is cumbersome, but democracy requires this. Or, in plain language, you people who want justice for the Klassens and Kvellos are just a bunch of illiterate hicks, not educated leaders of society like us.
On Friday, it was announced that the Law Society is investigating three prosecutors in Prince Albert who appear to have tampered with evidence by using white-out on documents. And then there are the lawsuits against Bruce Bauer and Leslie Sullivan in the Martensville proceedings, yet to come.
Next week The Fifth Estate will once again feature this story, as part of a round-up of stories they broke which ended well. There are several reporters working on several other aspects of this story. On February 19, the whole front and third pages of the StarPhoenix were devoted to fleshing out the degree of ruination to the falsely accused
Many people are still very interested and concerned about the Ross children -- there will be lots more stories on what they are up to and how their little lives which were given a chance only during the time they were in the safe home of Dale and Anita Klassen are progressing now. Clue: they are not doing well. Michelle is back in Pine Grove, Michael is having a tough time buying food and paying rent and Kathy is trying to get her baby back in B.C. The more we bring these stories back to the forefront, the clearer it becomes to everyone that Social Services should have been left as Defendants in QB271 - 1994.
Oh yes, Social Services will be on our minds during the next 30 weeks. We will be continuing to try to determine the role Social Services (Now Human Resources) employee Susan Paskieka played in apprehending the children of Vopni family from Star City. Was she even more skilled than therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys in turning extracted statements from damaged children into "information" which RCMP officers found to be sound and two prosecutors found fertile enough to secure indictments? We know that there are other such cases where the victims have been so shamed that they have silently accepted the loss of their children and whatever punishment dealt out by Saskatchewan justice and tried to limp on with their lies. We know they are there because many of them have written to us, under desperate pleas of confidentiality. But they did write, to give encouragement to the Klassens and Kvellos and the letters always contain "we sympathise with what you have been through because we had something similar happen to us . . ."
There is Dueck. Even as he appeals Judge Baynton's findings an independent law firm is looking at the file to determine just how bad he was and how many laws he broke. Dueck always loved publicity and he will be getting some more. It will be bad for him but good for us. Chief Russell Sabo has expressed openness to the idea of an independent body to oversee and investigate police complaints. Alberta Solicitor-General Heather Forsyth has called for the formation of such a body and has the agreement of several police chiefs. Toronto is another story as Chief Julian Fantino and the police unions continue to buck any kind of change. Ken Wood, who was savagely beaten by Toronto police during a legal protest has launched a lawsuit.
But wait. The government has finally appointed a judge to look into David Milgaard's plight -- after all these years! We will certainly be interested in participating in that one. (The Lamer Commission of Inquiry is back holding sessions in Newfoundland) Manitoba will be looking into the James Driskell case.
Monique Turenne has been denied disclosure regarding Canada's participation in helping a Florida Grand Jury frame an indictment around her. We will have lots to say about that. Meanwhile, read why John Graham cannot get a fair trial in the U.S.
I have posted today another terrible story from British Columbia. Last week we told you about Ron Jesterhoudt in Victoria. This week is in Nelson. Ken Hillstead wrote to us and sent us some clippings about how his mother, who for many years fostered troubled teen-agers, had her family's life ruined in 1993.
We have thirty weeks. That's a lot of time to prepare the public for a damages trial. But we did it last year (prepared for a trial) so we are much more experienced. And there are a lot more of us. We can't be everywhere, but it is starting to feel like we are everywhere. Busting the injustice perps is getting easier. We still need a lot of practice bringing the transgressors to account.
We're working on it.
And then, there is our other self-described mandate -- the restoration of reputations to the defamed. Gerald Morris, the former Credit Union manager from Cabri who's family was tackled and taken down by ambitious, greedy lawyers who went on to hold high office in this province is still seeking justice. We will have some interesting updates on that story.
Do you remember the story we picked up from Alberta last year about the Edmonton paramedic who was charged with sexually assaulting his wife and whose name could not be published because her privacy needed protecting? Well, he is suing her and those public servants who helped her. It is still a no-name story, though.
Monday, Feb. 16: On Sunday, Richard Klassen received a fax from the Justice Department indicating they were not prepared to settle with the plaintiffs until damages have been court-ordered and the appeal has been heard. So much for Justice Minister Frank Quennell's personal assurance to Richard and Dale Klassen that he would look seriously at the proporal they gave him one week ago. On Friday, Quennell's office phoned Richard Klassen to get a run-down of exactly what it was Richard Klassen had proposed to him. It seemed that the notes of the meeting were not detailed enough. Klassen once again provided the essential details of his proposal which allowed the government to take its appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Canada in return for paying out the plaintiffs according to a non-precedent setting forumla and settling some other claims directly arising from the initial cause of action.
The publicized meeting between Premier Lorne Calvert and the plaintiffs is supposed to go ahead this week. Richard and Kari Klassen will not be there. Dale and Anita Klassen will not be there. Calvert has already said that the meeting is not about settlement. So what is the point? The meeting is supposed to be private. Another apology with no admission of liability? That is not what Richard Klassen wants and I don't think it is what the public wants, either.
The government's strategy would seem to be to continue to stall. They seem to be relying on the passage of time to soften public outrage. Surely they don't have ireason to expect that they are going to win at the Saskatchewan Appeal court and are counting on a reversal of Judge Baynton's finding of malice. For if they lose at appeal, they would not have the right to take it to the Supreme Court, an opportunity which Richard Klassen offered them.
Cost-effectiveness is not a sound reason for turning down Richard Klassen's proposal, either. It is unlikely that the damages portion of the trial, which must take place before the appeal can be heard, will result in an award which is lower than the guidelines Klassen suggested. And, as Sask. Party justice critic Don Morgan pointed out, damages continue to mount.
One has to wonder just how much weight prosecutor Matthew Miazga wields in Saskatchewan Justice. Quennell's first public statement regarding this case was to state that he viewed Miazga as a colleague and could not believe he was capable of malice. Miazga has handled some prestigious, career-building cases since he prosecuted the Klassens and Kvellos. Last week's announcement in Ontario that Susan MacLean, the prosecutor who went after Guy Paul Morin not once, but twice, was made a judge underscores our fear that promotions and rewards are the only consequence for judicial findings of malice.
Everything else that is going on in Canada right now suggests that the public has grown impatient with dishonest public servants. Paul Martin has promised "heads will roll" in Ottawa following Auditor General Sheila Freser's findings of dishonest practices.
It is political insanity for Lorne Calvert to continue to promote Crown prosecutors as protectors of public safety while that office is providing a safe harbour for several who are arguably dangerous.
We are only part way down the road but at least Richard Klassen will be driving a new car. It would be no exaggeration to say that he has logged a million kilometres since 1993 when he set about to clear his name. He lived in Red Deer, in Saskatoon, in Harris, Sask., in Altona, Manitoba and most recently in Outlook. He travelled wherever he had to go to research the case. And he did it in many vehicles, most of them old . It is about time he road in style.
The $1.5M cheque the government cut the plaintiffs today won't allow a lot of style but it will afford some dignity. In a province where many people are suffering, such a payment might sound like a lot. It is not a lot for twelve plaintiffs and even that amount would not have happened had Richard Klassen and his team not kept the pressure on during this past week. The media covered it well starting with Wednesday when Richard Klassen met with the deputy attorney general in Saskatoon while his wife Kari, daugher Kayla and son Brady went to Regina to see Justice Minister and Attorney-General Frank Quennell.
Suddenly the law and politics intersected and they are intersecting still.
Two years ago, Don McKillop told Richard Klassen that if he wanted anything to happen in this case, he should go to the politicians. Meanwhile, McKillop was taking instruction from the politicians (or so he said) to do everything possible to make sure the lawsuit did not proceed to trial.
Politicians were unresponsive. Romanow (who was played his own role in promoting the Satanic panic in 1993 when he and Janice MacKinnon flew into Martensville to attend a "heal the community" rally) moved on to other concerns; Bob Mitchell likewise; Chris Axworthy resigned; Calvert surrounded himself with so many layers of flak catchers that no one could get near him; Eric Cline said he would accept a trial judge's decision on the matter and then his successor, Frank Quennell appealed the verdict.
They did not respond when we camped on the legislature lawn last summer.
But it would appear that they do not want another such summer of activism.
In the fullness of time, we will hear why Superintendant Brian Dueck decided to appeal at the zero hour. Chief Russell Sabo learned of the appeal on the news. Certainly, Saskatoon does not want another summer like last year, either, where we effectively took to the streets and made connections in the community.
Just because Richard Klassen has publicly stated his intention to move to Manitoba does not mean that Saskatoon will be allowed to get away with Dueck-style policing.
Richard Klassen has a car.
And he will drive in that car to Saskatoon on Monday to finally meet face to face with Justice Minister Frank Quennell to talk politics and law.
Real politics. Real law.
As some money comes down the pipes, we will replace equipment which either wore out or had to be sold during the tough times of the last years.
We will continue to work on the cases we have already committed ourselves to and try and find the best way to get what we have learned to the largest number of people.
There will be books and movies.
We have been contacted by countless people who tell us they have printed up hundreds of pages at a time from this website to take to family gatherings, leave in coffee shops, give to other friends in trouble. We will definitely be looking for ways to make this easier -- making more printer friendly pages -- perhaps providing print versions of some of our work.
We have been deluged with e-mails and calls from people who want our help. A common one is the mischievous abuse of the law by one of the spouses in child custody disputes -- resulting in arrests, charges, and sometimes convictions based on simply taking the spouse at her/his word. In fact, there would seem to be an epidemic of such cases, most of them in family courts all over the country where malicious prosecutors have a field day. We want this to end. We need to find a way to get malice into the criminal code and provide severe penalties for it.
There is a lot of work to be done. And we are going to need a lot of people to do it. Our thanks to all of those people who have given us support along the road so far. And we trust you will all be there for the long haul.
As far as the government appealing Judge Baynton's findings regarding malice? They claim they need clarity, that prosecutors are chilled, etc. We do not want anything to impede the seeking of clarity. Judge Baynton;s decision is clear to us, but if it is necessary for it to be further clarified by the highest court in the land, we are confident it will hold as a document Canada can proudly show to the world.
Changes arising from the Sally Clark case in England, the implementation of recommendations arising from various inquiries into wrongful convictions -- gradually the efforts of ordinary people are making themselves felt.
Monday: Richard told John Gormley Monday that he had no confidence the scheduled meeting with government bureaucrats would do anything to address his family's concerns. As he was talking, the rest of his family was on their way to Regina. According to CKOM at 10:30, Kari, Kayla and Brady Klassen were being removed from the Legislature. At 11, we learned that Kari is meeting with Joanne Crofford. Apparently post 9/11, members of the public are no longer allowed to wait in the foyer at the legislative building. Kari's father is remaining with her and Kari has said she will not leave -- they will have to remove her and her children.
He was a guest on Peter Warren on Sunday. Warren said that after the "weekender" he did a month ago, there was only one person who did not express complete support for settlement with the Klassens.
Ann Smart and Larry Mullen have resigned from the executive committee of the Saskatoon-Meewasin constituency association in protest over the government's mishandling of Judge Baynton's finding of malicious prosecution against them. They have detailed their reasons for this action in a letter to Justie Minister Frank Quennell. We expect that other high-profile party members are making their voices heard within the NDP.