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Commission of Inquiry into the Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard

page twenty-three

Joyce Milgaard

Ruling leaves Milgaard questioning fairness
Mother terms process' an exercise in futility after MacCallum's decision

Joyce Milgaard walked out of the inquiry looking into the wrongful conviction of her son, David Milgaard, on Tuesday, after Commissioner Justice Edward MacCallum made a ruling she thought was unfair.

"Our group, we don't seem to be being listened to by the commissioner at all in any of the things that he's been doing. To me it's just an exercise in futility to be here. If I'm not seeing justice and fairness from this man, why be here?" she said.

"I think it's been evident all along and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back."

The ruling had to do with which of the 12 parties with standing at the inquiry would have the privilege of being last to cross-examine the witness, an issue that has arisen repeatedly during the inquiry that began 17 months ago.

MacCallum gave the privilege of last cross-examination to the Saskatoon Police Service, rather than to David Milgaard's lawyer, Hersh Wolch, who also wanted to go last.

Wolch said the rule which has prevailed throughout the inquiry has been for the party most closely aligned with the witness to go last and that parties with similar interests should go one after the other.

Wolch said his client is most closely aligned to witness Paul Henderson, who believed in Milgaard's innocence and helped gather information to persuade the federal justice minister to order a case review at the Supreme Court of Canada.

"I went first with a slew of people who said negative things about David," Wolch said.

Despite Joyce Milgaard's impression of unfairness, commission lawyer Doug Hodson said the lawyers have usually resolved the order among themselves in a "very fair manner."

"The commissioner has said on a number of occasions that it should not be adversarial, there should not be jockeying for position," Hodson said.

"The commissioner has, from time to time, made rulings on specific witnesses. Among counsel we've tried to put together a system that works," he said.

"You have competing interests and it's always not easy to take a hard and fast rule. . . . Certainly there will be witnesses where one party might not like the fact they have to go sooner rather than later.

"The commissioner has indicated that if the parties can't agree or if there isn't any easy solution, then he will set the order."

MacCallum has been flexible in rulings thus far.

In June 2005 MacCallum said, "It is an advantage to be last and those whose clients are most directly and substantially affected by the testimony of this witness would have first claim on being last if they choose to exercise it."

In January, he said, "Whoever is most identified in interest with the witness goes last."

As it turned out neither Wolch nor Joyce Milgaard's lawyer, Joanne McLean, had any questions for the witness Tuesday.

Joyce Milgaard appeared to see Tuesday's ruling as an indication MacCallum is siding with parties responsible for her son's wrongful conviction.

"The commissioner's already made up his mind that nobody did anything wrong," she said. "Its been obvious almost from Day 1 what's happening here.

"I don't know what his findings will be, but if this is any example of the fairness this man has, what will I have next, because this is totally unfair," she said.

Last fall, MacCallum ordered David Milgaard to testify at the inquiry or lose his standing, after Milgaard declared publicly that he would not testify.

Wolch later asked that Milgaard be allowed to give written answers to written questions and brought two psychologists who said it would be harmful for Milgaard to testify at the hearing because he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

MacCallum did not accept that Milgaard suffers from the disorder but allowed him to testify in Vancouver in a videotaped interview with Hodson because lawyers for other parties with standing suggested it.


Joyce Milgaard takes the stand at son's inquiry

After all the work Joyce Milgaard did to free her wrongly convicted son from prison, she still wonders if she could have done more, sooner.

Milgaard, who began testifying Monday at the inquiry into David Milgaard's wrongful conviction for the 1969 murder of Gail Miller, said she believed in the justice system and obeyed police and her son's lawyer, who told her to leave the information gathering to them.

"Looking back, its upsetting. Should I have done more instead of leaving it to the police who didn't do a good job," she said.

Ten years after David's 1970 conviction, as he lay in a hospital bed with a police gunshot wound suffered while he was unlawfully at large, Joyce Milgaard began investigating in earnest, to find information that would get her son out of prison.

That led to a 12-year-long investigation by Joyce that drew in journalists, lawyers and eventually much of the Canadian public, as she fought to convince the federal justice department to review David's conviction.

Her work led to the revelation of serial rapist, Larry Fisher, who lived in the basement of a house Milgaard had visited on the day of the murder.

The Supreme Court of Canada quashed Milgaard's conviction in 1992. DNA evidence proved his innocence in 1997 and was used to help convict Larry Fisher in 1999.

In 1969 David was oldest of four children of Lorne and Joyce MIlgaard.

David was a hyperactive child who was expelled from the church-basement kindergarten he attended, a fact that had become a joke in the family. He was bright and bored with school, where he was disruptive in class, getting other students to follow his lead.

In his teen years David joined the hippie lifestyle and often took to the road, hitchhiking across Canada with his girlfriend, Sharon Williams.

Milgaard's parents turned to social services for help in controlling their son and agreed that sending him to a special school might help. That led to his being sent to stay in a psychiatric centre The fact was later used by Crown prosecutor Bobs Caldwell in letters written in the 1970s to the parole board, arguing that Milgaard should not be released from prison.

David had recently quit the hippie lifestyle in 1969 when he was arrested for the January 31 murder. At the time of his arrest, David was selling magazine subscriptions door to door for Maclean's magazine.

The sales job satisfied his desire for travel, excitment and money, Joyce Milgaard recalled.

He was working in Winnipeg when first questioned about the murder a month after it happened. He was in Saskatoon a few weeks later and willing gave the police hair and blood samples.

In May 1969 he was working in Prince George, British Columbia, when he heard that police were looking for him. His supervisor drove him to the RCMP detatchment where he turned himself in.


Joyce Milgaard takes the stand at inquiry into her son's wrongful conviction

SASKATOON (CP) - David Milgaard's mother says her son was a teenager with a "wild streak" who had turned his life around when police fingered him for a vicious rape and murder he didn't commit.

On the stand at the public inquiry into her son's wrongful conviction, Joyce Milgaard said David, then 16, had a job selling magazine subscriptions for Maclean's.

He had cut his hair and had left the hitchhiking hippie lifestyle behind when Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller was killed in 1969.

She says David had been waiting to get a licence to sell subscriptions in British Columbia when he decided to go on a road trip with friends that took them through Saskatoon on the morning of the crime.

When investigators showed up on the family's doorstep a few months later, she says she figured one of his friends might have been involved in a murder, but she knew her son would have never done such a thing.

David Milgaard spent 23 years wrongfully in prison for Miller's murder.

It was a crime DNA evidence would eventually prove he didn't commit.


Milgaard's mother blasts the police
They twisted facts, she tells inquiry into son's wrongful murder conviction

SASKATOON -- Joyce Milgaard says she knew it would be up to her to prove that her son David was not guilty of rape and murder after he escaped from prison and was shot by police in 1980.

She told the inquiry into her son's wrongful conviction yesterday that she was convinced someone twisted the facts about the death of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller to put her son behind bars.

"The only one that could be the twister of facts were the police," she said.

David Milgaard spent 23 years in prison for the crime, which DNA evidence eventually proved he didn't commit.

Ms. Milgaard's unflagging commitment to her son's cause helped get his conviction overturned by the Supreme Court in 1992.

She told the inquiry how her son was a teenager with a "wild streak" who had turned his life around when police fingered him for Ms. Miller's murder.

When he was 16, she said, David had a job selling magazine subscriptions for Maclean's. He had cut his hair and had left the hitchhiking hippie lifestyle behind.

She said her son had been waiting to get a licence to sell subscriptions in British Columbia when he decided to go on a road trip with friends that took them through Saskatoon on the morning of Ms. Miller's murder.

"David had the weekend off," Ms. Milgaard said. "That's when they took this fateful trip that has ended here 37 years later."

When her son was initially charged, she was confident he would be found not guilty.

"I was so convinced that the Canadian justice system would see through this picture," she told the inquiry.

"I just had a lot of belief that the system was good and David would be alright."

But David's travelling companions testified against him during the trial, and he ended up being convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Ms. Milgaard told the inquiry she felt she should have been doing more to prove her son's innocence.

"Should I not, as a mom, have been out researching all this stuff instead of leaving it to the police, who didn't do a good job?" she asked.

She told the inquiry she understood that, after her son's escape from prison, "the key would be thrown away" and parole would be a long shot.

The family managed to put together enough money for a $10,000 reward for information that would lead to the case being overturned. They also began to search for witnesses who had testified at the trial and started their own investigation of the case.

Ms. Milgaard is scheduled to testify at the inquiry all week.


Joyce Milgaard was suspicious of everybody

One of the first things David Milgaard's mother, Joyce Milgaard, and his siblings did after they decided in 1980 to re-investigate the murder case against him, was to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to David's exoneration.

On December 23, the family issued a news release to inform the public what they were doing and over the next week they went door to door, delivering thousands of flyers to Saskatoon households.

They also hired lawyer Gary Young and began the long, slow legal process to have the case reopened.

The reward poster yielded a newspaper article and numerous leads.

The news item attracted the attention of journalist Peter Carlyle-Gordge, who began investigating the story and came to believe in David Milgaard's innocence.

Among the responses to the reward poster were some from individual members of the Saskatoon police who encouraged Joyce Milgaard to continue with her efforts, she said Tuesday at the inquiry into her son's wrongful conviction.

She doesn't remember their names and said some of them were anonymous, hang up calls.

One such caller informed her the exhibits from the trial were still at the court house and might be destroyed, she said. Soon after, Joyce Milgaard, Young and Carlyle-Gordge went to the court house and looked at the exhibits.

Milgaard had Young write to the court house, asking them to ensure the exhibits were not destroyed.

Young also requested and was denied access to police files on the Miller murder investigation. The chief of police also told Young that police would not talk to Milgaard's mother or his lawyers unless he received direction from the attourney general.

Young obtained trial transcripts and a vetted copy of defence lawyer Cal Tallis's file from his former law firm. By that time, Tallis had been appointed to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Young also asked prosecutor Bobs Caldwell for his file. Documents show Caldwell agreed to let Young look at the file, and Caldwell testified he thought Young had. Young testified at the inquiry that he doesn't recall acting on the invitation.

Joyce Milgaard says she doesn't know why they didn't obtain Caldwell's file, which when reviewed in 1992, was found to contain useful information that was not disclosed to the defence at the time of the trial.

With few resources, Joyce took on the role of investigator herself. She set out to find and interview the main witnesses in the trial. She eventually spoke to Ron Wilson, Nichol John, Albert Cadrain's mother, motel room witnesses George Lapchuk, Debbie Hall and Bob Harris.

She was suspicious of everyone, she said.

In a 1981 interview with Ron Wilson, who had been with Milgaard the morning of the murder, Wilson backed off many of the incriminating statements he had made against David Milgaard in court, but Joyce didn't think she could believe him.

Debbie Hall's claim that Milgaard had joked as he fluffed up a pillow in the motel room, increased Joyce's suspicion of the Crown witnesses who said David re-enacted the murder and admitted killing Miller.

The family's investigation also included visiting the scene of the crime, where they re-enacted the Crown's theory of the way events unfolded and found Nichol John's damning statement was implausible, Joyce Milgaard said.

"I still wonder to this day why a prosecutor wouldn't have tested that theory," Joyce Milgaard said.

Joyce also investigated many false leads, including suspecting two other men of the murder. In 1981 she suspected a man who been convicted of killing his wife in 1970. A few weeks later, she heard about a mental patient who had been missing from North Battleford mental hospital "the day the nurse was killed." The man had showed up at his parent's home in Leask that day with blood on his clothes and had told them he had killed a rabbit.

After much investigation, including a trip to North Battleford to see the man, Milgaard discovered that "the nurse" mentioned in the tip was not Miller, but one who had been murdered in 1963 in Saskatoon.


Milgaard's mother put shoulder to wheel to exonerate son

SASKATOON - When David Milgaard's family decided in 1980 to try and re-open the murder case against him, one of the first things his mother Joyce Milgaard did was to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to her son's exoneration.

Testifying Tuesday at an inquiry into his wrongful 1969 conviction for the murder of Gail Miller, Joyce Milgaard said that just before Christmas in 1980, the family issued a news release and delivered thousands of flyers to Saskatoon households. They also hired lawyer Gary Young and began the slow legal process to have the case re-opened.

The publicity yielded numerous leads. It also attracted the attention of journalist Peter Carlyle-Gordge, who began investigating the story and came to believe in Milgaard's innocence.

Among the responses were some from individual members of the Saskatoon police who encouraged Joyce Milgaard to continue her efforts, she testified.

One such caller informed her the exhibits from the trial were still at the court house and might be destroyed, she said. Milgaard had Young write to the court house, asking them to ensure the exhibits were not destroyed.

Young also requested and was denied access to police files on the Miller murder investigation. The chief of police also told Young that police would not co-operate unless directed by the attorney general.

Young obtained trial transcripts and a vetted copy of defence lawyer Cal Tallis's file from his former law firm. By that time, Tallis had been appointed to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Young also asked prosecutor Bobs Caldwell for his file. Documents show Caldwell agreed to let Young look at the file, and Caldwell testified he thought Young had. Young testified at the inquiry that he doesn't recall acting on the invitation.

Milgaard says she doesn't know why they didn't obtain Caldwell's file, which when reviewed in 1992 was found to contain useful information that was not disclosed to the defence at the time of the trial.

With few resources, Joyce took on the role of investigator, setting out to interview the main witnesses in the trial. She was suspicious of everyone, she said.

In a 1981 interview with Ron Wilson, who had been with her son the morning of the murder, Wilson backed off many of the incriminating statements he had made against David Milgaard in court, but Joyce didn't think she could believe him.

The family's investigation also included visiting the scene of the crime, where they re-enacted the Crown's theory of the way events unfolded and found Nichol John's damning statement was implausible, Joyce Milgaard said.

"I still wonder to this day why a prosecutor wouldn't have tested that theory," Joyce Milgaard said.


Frustration led to suspicions, Joyce Milgaard tells inquiry
Feared defence lawyer had betrayed son

As David Milgaard's mother struggled in the 1980s to find the key to his freedom, frustration and suspicion led her to see sinister secrets behind ordinary remarks and coincidences, the Milgaard inquiry heard Wednesday.

Joyce Milgaard couldn't help thinking that somebody had done something wrong to put her son in prison and keep him there so long.

Milgaard recalled that she was "exceedingly frustrated" by 1990, after David had been in prison for 20 years and his family had put in 10 years of intense effort to have the case reopened.

Joyce had led an amateur investigation into the case against her son in the 1969 rape and murder of Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller.

The work included poring over trial transcripts, uncounted trips to Saskatoon from Winnipeg, days spent knocking on doors, days in library archives reviewing old newspapers, weeks and months spent tracking down and interviewing dozens of witnesses and repeated applications to the National Parole Board, but Milgaard seemed no closer to freedom.

Joyce said she had become increasingly suspicious of anyone connected to the case.

As she worked in the dark, the possibility of wrongdoing and collusion seemed ever-present.

The facts behind many of her suspicions, reviewed in the clear light of the inquiry during the past 17 months, have been found to have simple explanations.

The family had re-enacted the Crown's theory of how the murder had occurred and found it implausible. Joyce suspected Crown prosecutor Bobs Caldwell didn't really believe it either.

In 1982, she wanted to see Caldwell's files but feared he might remove incriminating evidence if he knew she was the person seeking it. In her suspicion, she forgot that Caldwell had given her previous lawyer, Gary Young, permission to review his file.

Joyce had journalist and Milgaard advocate Peter Carlyle-Gordge approach Caldwell saying he was writing a book on famous western Canadian murders.

Caldwell gave Carlyle-Gordge unrestrained access to his voluminous files and spoke candidly about the case.

In a taped interview, Caldwell told Carlyle-Gordge that he got along with Milgaard's defence lawyer, Cal Tallis, and remarked that the pair of them had worked together to get a man locked away forever.

"We've been allies on various things," Caldwell told Carlyle-Gordge.

"Can you understand why I was suspicious of Mr. Caldwell when I read something like that? Right away, that's when I thought Mr. Tallis had done something wrong with him, that he had worked with him to put David away too," she recalled thinking.

"To me, it seemed so clear that's what they'd done," she said.

Milgaard didn't know, when she read the transcript of the interview, that Tallis sometimes contracted his service to the Attorney General's office and worked as a prosecutor, which was a common practice in that era, the inquiry has heard.

Caldwell was referring to a case where he and Tallis had worked together as prosecutors.

"It's sad when I look at it now, I wish I'd had a better understanding," Joyce said.

Also in the 1980s, Joyce began to distrust her lawyer at the time, Tony Merchant, because he represented former Saskatchewan cabinet minister Colin Thatcher, who was convicted of murdering his wife.

Joyce heard from a source, whom she can no longer remember, that Thatcher had known and dated Gail Miller.

The connection was never proven, but at the time, Joyce believed it and came to suspect that Merchant was deliberately confounding her efforts so that attention would not turn to Thatcher, whom she suspected was Miller's real killer.


Joyce Milgaard was 'at the end of her rope'

Sitting on pins and needles, Joyce Milgaard was at the end of her rope in 1990 as she waited for word on her son's application to the federal justice minister to have his case reviewed, she told the inquiry into her son's wrongful conviction Monday.

Fed up, frustrated, cynical and suspicious, Milgaard continued her quest to free her son by forging ahead without the help of authorities.

Her quest would take her all the way to the wife of the man later convicted of the crime Larry Fisher.

An anonymous tip to Milgaard lawyer Hersh Wolch pointed the finger at Larry Fisher and led Joyce to Saskatoon, where she learned Linda and Larry Fisher were renting the basement of the Albert Cadrain home during the time of the 1969 rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller. David Milgaard was convicted of the murder but later exonerated after DNA evidence proved his innocence in 1997.

Heading over to a school in the city where Fisher's daughter Tammy had once attended, Milgaard was able to find Linda's address. But when she arrived at the home, she was told Linda had moved to Cando, Sask.

With Seattle-based private investigator Paul Henderson in toe, the pair headed to Linda's home. It was here in her discussion with Linda where Milgaard said she became confident Fisher was indeed the perpetrator.

"When she described the morning approaching her husband about her paring knife being missing and she said how his face had drained and he became very white and shaky, 'I thought this is it, he must have done it,'" she said. The murder weapon that killed Miller was a plastic-handled paring knife with a smooth blade.

Although the pair were talking about a wooden-handled paring knife that Milgaard realized was not the same as the murder weapon, years later Linda Fisher told the RCMP she was missing a plastic-handled paring knife she owned but had forgotten about.

That, coupled with information of Fisher's involved in other rape cases in the area, sent chills running up and down her spine, Milgaard testified.

"I really felt we're here," she said. "I went out of there saying, 'We're gonna get you out David, we're gonna get you out.'"

Milgaard testified Monday she had not considered turning the information over to the authorities after months of inaction.

"This was information to be followed, it was fresh, I wanted answers," she said, adding she felt she had to prove her son's innocence because the authorities wouldn't.

"I wanted to be sure that I would get the information, that they weren't going to cover it up," she added.

Milgaard, David and his lawyers, had been waiting for word from then federal justice minister Kim Campbell on the status of her son's application to have his case reviewed.

Milgaard testified she assumed that once the application was deemed to have merit, the department would met with her, reexamine the case and a remedy or solution would result.

"If they once looked at the case from the start and looked at all the things that didn't add up, the original testimony of the witnesses being the same, that they were never there, how those witnesses were changed, if we could show all of these things that we had found out, we felt that they would start really going back and investigating all of that," she said.

But Milgaard came to later understand that she was wrong.

One of the most devastating events for the mother struggling to prove her son's innocence came during a meeting with the minister, where she tried to hand her a forensic pathologist's report that she believed proved his innocence.

Ultimately, Milgaard maintained that she believed the minister would provide a decision in the case.

"That was one of the reasons that I went and tried to approach Kim Campbell when she was in Winnipeg, to give her the ... report because obviously if she'd seen that ... report I figured my son's case would be reopened," she said. "All I wanted to do was hand her the report and she sort of brushed me aside, and she said, 'Don't talk to me Mrs. Milgaard," Milgaard explained. "It was one of the most crushing moments of my life but it proved to be a wonderful thing because it just made so many people so mad at Kim Campbell."

The inquiry continues Tuesday.


Rejection letter spurs breakdown
Joyce Milgaard felt evidence overwhelming

Joyce Milgaard broke down Wednesday as she was questioned about a letter from the federal Department of Justice turning down her son David's submission to have his conviction for the 1969 rape and murder of Gail Miller reviewed.

"I need to take a break," she told commission counsel Doug Hodson, choking on her words. "I find this letter very upsetting."

Hodson called for a 15-minute break from the inquiry into David Milgaard's wrongful conviction. As the room emptied, Joyce Milgaard sat in the witness chair, took off her glasses and fought back tears.

The letter was from former justice minister Kim Campbell, explaining that David Milgaard's application for a new trial wasn't strong enough. He was convicted a year after Miller died, in 1970. He was exonerated in 1997 when DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Larry Fisher was convicted of the crime in 1999.

In 1990, the Department of Justice claimed that a report by Dr. James Ferris which revealed that forensic evidence was tainted by dog urine was not strong enough.

It also said Joyce Milgaard and her lawyer David Asper's linking of Fisher to the rape and murder of Miller was not enough to warrant an approval of David Milgaard's application.

On Wednesday, Joyce Milgaard testified that she and Asper did a lot of their own investigations into Fisher.

In June 1990, the CBC publicized Fisher's name in connection with several rapes that happened in Saskatoon around the time Miller was killed, and with the David Milgaard case. Joyce Milgaard had given the CBC Fisher's name, but under the condition it not be released. However, the CBC did its own investigation, finding critical information that tied Fisher to the rapes in Saskatoon.

Milgaard said she was pleased that the news about Fisher was in the public.

"I was glad people knew about it. I had concerns . . . but I was relieved it was out there."

She said she was concerned for Fisher's ex-wife, Linda Fisher, and the toll it would take on her, but Milgaard said her defence of her son was her priority.

"We were feeding this to the public so they could see what was wrong with this case," Milgaard said.

After the CBC got documents about Fisher's rape charges in Saskatoon, Milgaard said she and Asper found the addresses of the victims and mapped them out.

"They encircled Gail Miller," Milgaard explained. "It was so obvious." Milgaard said she was excited to get this information.

"It was a real bombshell."

She said she thought the Department of Justice couldn't discount that information. Fisher was a convicted rapist, he lived in a house that David Milgaard had visited, which was in the area where Miller was killed. She said she wondered how the department could ignore that information.

Milgaard said she saw all this evidence as proof, so she was devastated when the letter from the Department of Justice denied her son's application.

"It was a no and I had expected a yes," she said.


Supreme Court ruling angered Joyce Milgaard

Joyce Milgaard was outraged by the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 1992 that impeded David Milgaard's hope for exoneration and compensation at the same time that it guaranteed his freedom after 23 years in prison.

The Supreme Court refused to hear evidence about wrongdoing by police or prosecutors but then declared in its decision that it had heard no probative evidence to support Milgaard's claim there had been any wrongdoing by them, Joyce Milgaard said Monday at the inquiry into the wrongful conviction of her son.

"It blew my mind that they would say that. . . . How could they say that when they didn't want it?" Joyce Milgaard said.

"I just felt they'd failed him miserably. . . . He wandered around for years with a cloud over his head," she said.

In 1992, the Supreme Court quashed Milgaard's conviction for the 1969 murder of Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller, saying that his continued conviction would constitute a miscarriage of justice.

The court said there was new, credible evidence which might have affected the findings of a jury, but it also stated that it was not satisfied that Milgaard was innocent.

The court also recommended that if Milgaard was given a new trial and was convicted, that Saskatchewan Justice should give him a conditional pardon.

Milgaard was released and the charge against him was stayed, leaving him without any support for his claim of innocence, the inquiry heard Monday.

DNA evidence proved Milgaard's innocence in 1997 and was used to help convict rapist Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999. That year the Saskatchewan government paid Milgaard $10 million in compensation.

Then-justice minister Bob Mitchell relied upon the Supreme Court's ruling to support his decision not to give Milgaard another trial.

Mitchell also declared there would be no public inquiry into Milgaard's allegation that police had coerced witnesses to lie and that they and other justice officials had deliberately suppressed information about Fisher.

"I do not see what an inquiry could possibly establish that the Supreme Court has not already done," Mitchell said.

"There was nothing brought before the Supreme Court justices that could convince even one justice that Mr. Milgaard is either innocent or a victim of a miscarriage of justice. Anyone who would suggest otherwise has no understanding of what the Supreme Court said," Mitchell stated in a news release two days after the Supreme Court ruling.

Mitchell said he wanted to make it "crystal clear" there would be no compensation.

He told a Globe and Mail newspaper reporter in 1995 that he believed Milgaard was guilty.

In the years leading up to the Supreme Court review, Milgaard's efforts were directed at convincing the federal government of the need for that review.

After the decision, the Supreme Court ruling had become a serious impediment to David's hopes for exoneration and compensation, Joyce Milgaard said.

At that point, the Milgaards' efforts turned toward the Saskatchewan government, which had the power to order a public inquiry and provide compensation.

By the fall of 1992, Mitchell had maintained his refusal to revisit the case and David Milgaard needed a way to maintain public pressure to change the government position, Joyce Milgaard said.

t was then they chose to hold a news conference revealing the allegations of Michael Breckenridge, a former Justice Department employee who had come to them earlier that year claiming there had been closed-door meetings of high-ranking justice officials in Regina who discussed the Milgaard and Fisher files.

The allegations turned out to be unfounded and it was shown that Breckenridge didn't work in the department during the period covered in the allegations.

A private investigator hired by Milgaard's lawyer, David Asper, to look into Breckenridge had reported that the allegations required further investigation and had cast some doubt on Breckenridge's credibility.

Joyce Milgaard said she believed Breckenridge and doesn't think she was aware of the investigator's report at the time of the September news conference.

Breckenridge's claims fit so neatly with her belief that there had been a cover-up in her son's case that she was less suspicious than she should have been, she said.


Chretien pressure spurred DNA testing
Joyce Milgaard

Joyce Milgaard credited former prime minister Jean Chretien Tuesday with influencing the federal government to order the 1997 DNA testing that exonerated David Milgaard of murder and implicated rapist Larry Fisher.

In 1995, Winnipeg MP John Harvard arranged for Joyce Milgaard to meet with Chretien and then-justice minister Allan Rock.

Milgaard told Chretien about the difficulty her son David was having adjusting to life outside prison while many people still believed he was guilty of murder. When Chretien said he thought everybody knew Milgaard was innocent, Joyce Milgaard said she told Chretien her son needed a way of proving it to the rest of the country. She wanted the government to call an inquiry into the matter.

"Allan Rock told him he just couldn't get involved. So he (Chretien) said to him (Rock), 'Whatever you can do for this lady, I want you to help her in whatever way you can. Do you understand?' And he said, 'Yes, prime minister, I do,' " Milgaard testified before the inquiry into David Milgaard's wrongful conviction.

By then, Joyce Milgaard was supporting the causes of other wrongfully convicted individuals and had seen cases in which DNA evidence had been used successfully.

DNA testing was still a fairly new and evolving science that was prohibitively expensive, she said.

She returned to Rock and asked that the federal government arrange to have murder victim Gail Miller's clothing tested.

When Rock balked, Joyce Milgaard reminded him of Chretien's direction.

"I said, 'Maybe I should go see him again,' and he said, 'No, why don't you leave it with me.' "

It took almost two years, but the results exonerated Milgaard.

The next day, two Saskatchewan Crown prosecutors apologized to Milgaard and joined him in calling for a public inquiry into the case.

The DNA findings were used in 1999 to convict Fisher of murder in Miller's 1969 death, the crime for which Milgaard had spent 23 years in prison.

Also on Tuesday, the inquiry looked at the chronology of events in 1992 that led to the Milgaard group publicly accusing high-ranking Saskatchewan justice officials, including then-premier Roy Romanow, of criminal misconduct. An RCMP investigation later concluded the allegations were unfounded.

In the fall of 1991, Centurion Ministries investigators declared in the media that Milgaard had been framed and there had been a coverup to conceal facts about Fisher convictions for other sexual assaults in the area, which could have raised doubts about the Milgaard conviction.

In January 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada began hearing evidence in a review of Milgaard's case.

In March 1992, Milgaard's lawyers received letter from a former Saskatchewan Justice Department employee, Michael Breckenridge, who alleged he had delivered the Milgaard and Fisher fi les to closed-door meetings involving prosecutor Serge Kujawa, then-Saskatchewan attorney general Romanow and other senior justice officials. Breckenridge claimed Kujawa told staff to keep their mouths closed if they valued their jobs.

In April 1992, the Supreme Court quashed Milgaard's conviction but said there was still evidence that a jury might use to convict him. The court ordered new trial for Milgaard but said that if he was found guilty, the Saskatchewan government should give him a conditional pardon.

The court said it had not heard any evidence of police or prosecutor wrongdoing.

On April 16, 1992, Milgaard was released. The Saskatchewan government stayed the charge and said there would be no inquiry or any compensation for Milgaard.

From April to September 1992, Milgaard lawyer Hersh Wolch and supporters exchanged numerous letters of debate with then-Saskatchewan justice minister Bob Mitchell requesting an inquiry. Mitchell refused, saying the Supreme Court conducted a thorough inquiry that "left no stone unturned." The Milgaard group countered that the Supreme Court had stated the review was not an inquiry into all aspects of the case.

In May 1992, Milgaard lawyers hired a private investigator to look into Breckenridge. The investigator interviewed him and reported that the allegations required further inquiry and cast doubt on Breckenridge's credibility.

In June 1992, Joyce Milgaard and the investigator met with Breckenridge. The investigator later told RCMP that he was never directed to conduct further inquiries into Breckenridge, as he had recommended.

In September 1992, David Milgaard, Joyce Milgaard and Wolch held a Winnipeg news conference where they released Breckenridge's allegations of various wrongdoings and a coverup by Saskatoon police and Saskatchewan justice officials.

In October 1992, the Saskatchewan deputy justice minister asked the RCMP to investigate Milgaard's allegations.

In January 1994, the RCMP report concluded that the available evidence did not support allegations of wrongdoing by Saskatoon police or other justice officials. It also concluded there was no new evidence which would exonerate Milgaard or inculpate anyone else, including Fisher.

In response to questions by commission lawyer, Doug Hodson, Joyce Milgaard agreed the reason for the September news conference was to discredit the Saskatchewan government and to increase public pressure for an inquiry into the matter.


Milgaard inquiry continues

SASKATOON - Joyce Milgaard says she overlooked evidence about rapist Larry Fisher in the early 1980s as she looked into the possibility a convicted murderer was Gail Miller's real killer.

At the inquiry into the wrongful conviction of her son, David, Joyce Milgaard said she found the name of Lorne Mahar, when she reviewed old copies of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on microfilm.

Facts about Mahar's known crime convinced her he was the real killer, she testified Wednesday under cross-examination by lawyer Aaron Fox, who represents retired police detective Eddy Karst.

Journalist and Milgaard advocate Peter Carlyle-Gordge had interviewed Crown witness Albert Cadrain and his brother, Dennis Cadrain, both of whom had told Carlyle-Gordge that Fisher, who had lived in the basement of their house at the time of the murder, had later been convicted of committing rapes.

Carlyle-Gordge had asked about Fisher because he'd seen a police report in prosecutor Bobs Caldwell's files in which a constable had questioned Fisher at Miller's bus stop on the Monday after the murder and Fisher had given his address.

Carlyle-Gordge had recognized the address as the Cadrain residence, but he told the inquiry he never made a connection between Fisher committing rapes and the Miller murder.

Carlyle-Gordge had also sought Fisher's wife, Linda Fisher, by placing a classified ad in the StarPhoenix. Linda Fisher and her then-common law husband both sent written replies, but Carlyle-Gordge never followed them up.

Joyce Milgaard said she didn't know at the time that Linda Fisher had responded.

Fox told Milgaard that Karst never wanted an innocent person to imprisoned, nor for a guilty man to go free.


Witnesses could be called upon to answer for their actions

SASKATOON -- Federal witnesses may be questioned about the reasons for their actions and the advice they provided or received in connection with the David Milgaard case, Milgaard inquiry commissioner Justice Edward MacCallum ruled Thursday.

In response to a proposal by commission counsel to question federal witnesses about the reasons for their actions in relation to the case, MacCallum set limits on the lawyers' questioning in a written decision.

MacCallum referred to the federal department of justice, which says questions "may be asked which engage investigative or fact finding activities, but not those which touch upon advice, legal or otherwise, giving rise to or following those activities."

Further, no provincially constituted commission of inquiry can inquire into the management or administration of a federal institution. But MacCallum ruled that advice, legal or otherwise, in the Milgaard case, does not fall under these areas.

"Therefore questions which seek to probe the reasons behind the actions, including questions about advice given or received, do not trench upon exclusive federal jurisdiction," he said in the decision.

Cross-examination of Joyce Milgaard continued at the inquiry Thursday. Milgaard admitted, in retrospect, she would never have held a press conference in 1992 suggesting Saskatchewan government officials were involved in a coverup surrounding her son's case.

Milgaard told Garrett Wilson, the lawyer for then-Crown prosecutor Serge Kujawa, that he believed the information provided to her team at the time to be true. The information was provided by Michael Breckenridge, a former employee of the attorney general's office who had written to Milgaard's lawyers in the months after he was released from prison.

David Milgaard was convicted in the 1969 rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller, but was later exonerated after DNA evidence proved his innocence in 1997. Serial rapist Larry Fisher was convicted of the crime in 1999.

Breckenridge claimed that around 1971, he delivered files on Milgaard and Fisher to Kujawa as he met with then-attorney general Roy Romanow and then-deputy justice minister Ken Lysyk. Joyce Milgaard also believed the individuals committed wrongdoing in connecting the Larry Fisher file with the David Milgaard file, in knowing Fisher was the real killer.

The allegations were presented at a news conference in 1992, where they demanded a public inquiry into Milgaard's wrongful conviction. A subsequent investigation by the RCMP followed and concluded there was no evidence to support the allegations.

"If I knew what I knew today I would have never conducted that press conference and, naturally, I have regrets about the disparaging remarks that were made about people that turned out not to be true," Milgaard told the inquiry Thursday. One of the people Milgaard was suspicious about was former Canadian governor general Ray Hnatyshyn.

She explained she was focused on exonerating her son at the time and was highly suspicious of everyone.

"If you had been where I had been at that point in my life, up against walls every time I turned around, you would have become as suspicious as I was of everyone and looking behind the bushes everywhere at anybody and anything," she said.


Report the focus at hearing into Milgaard's conviction

SASKATOON -- Federal Justice Department lawyer Eugene Williams testified Tuesday he did not consider notifying David Milgaard's lawyer that a promising report forming a basis for his first appeal to the minister had no merit.

"This was material that I was duty bound to bring to the minister," he said during questioning by commission counsel Doug Hodson.

"Mr. Asper and Mr. Wolch --- they had made their inquiries, they had made their assessment of the file and they brought this forward as their ground. My job was to make the necessary inquiries and provide a report to the minister. It would be inappropriate for me to prejudge how the minister would receive this information."

Milgaard applied to the justice minister in December 1988 to review his murder conviction in the 1969 rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller.

The application questioned the forensic evidence of semen found in the snow and included the statement of a motel party witness, Deb Hall, who said Milgaard was being sarcastic when he admitted killing Miller after others teased him about the fact he was a suspect in the murder.

Between 1986 and 1988 the applicants had the opportunity to gather material and provide the minister with the grounds to support the application, Williams said.

"When you make that application the assumption is you've done your research, you've identified the things that are wrong and you bring it to the minister's attention for consideration and a decision," he said. "It's not a game of ping-pong. Make your submission, you put your best foot forward, if you need our help to bolster any of the information around it, and if you ask, certainly we'll provide it."

Williams said it would not have been proper to share his assessment of the application before going to the minister.

"First, my role is to advise the minister," he said. "Second, my advice may not always be accepted by the minister, consequently it wasn't my responsibility or it wasn't appropriate for me to disclose to the applicant that type of information."

Williams said communication with the Milgaard team came through their lawyers and not directly with David Milgaard. The assumption was that Milgaard's lawyers would keep him abreast of any new developments.

Joyce Milgaard testified last month she assumed once the application was deemed to have merit, the department would meet with her and re-examine the case. By the mid-1990s, Milgaard, his family and lawyers were frustrated with the lack of communication from the Justice Department, believing Williams was biased in favour maintaining the conviction.

At the time Joyce Milgaard has said she believed authorities were involved in a coverup surrounding her son's case, prompting her to launch her own investigation and take her findings to the media.

Williams said he did not have the authority nor felt it was appropriate to argue the case in the media. His role was to assess the grounds of the application and provide advice to the minister, he said. But he was concerned as coverage in the media was mounting during the time, the public was being informed of the case without hearing the full story.

"The public's view is being shaped by a series of articles that didn't fully reflect the facts as I knew them and I was unable to correct that perception without violating the law as I understood it," he said.

Time spent preparing briefing notes for the minister to respond to reports in the media hampered the investigation of the application by delaying his work on the case, Williams said.

William's rejected the grounds of the application under section 690 of the Criminal Code, partly because the report calling into questioning the forensic evidence was based on incorrect assumptions, he said.

Milgaard's 1988 application was dismissed by the federal justice minister on Feb. 27, 1991. A second application was filed Aug. 14, 1991 and the case referred to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada directed a new trial and the minister to quash the conviction.

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