Congratulations, David Milgaard, and may you be the first of many Saskatchewan citizens to find justice at last!
Years ago when we put up this page, Joyce Milgaard was promising a camp-out on the lawn of the Regina legislature as she toured the country promoting her new book. Her campaign was effective in getting the settlement and it was also effective in showing something else: The Saskatchewan government is stubborn and unresponsive to calls for justice until they have no choice. They took from David Milgaard years of his life which no money can ever replace. At this writing (April, 2000) they are scrambling to cover-up the deaths of several people in Saskatoon at the hands of reckless police and the smearing of dozens of citizens with false charges of sex crimes against children.
Nilson also announced there will be yet another Public Inquiry to find out what went wrong. If we remember, there was one done already, and the government chose to sit on Judge Gold's recommendations.
The Saskatchewan government also had an inquiry into Martensville, and led the public to believe it was an inquiry into all the cases of bungled charges of sexual abuse. The report came back that no mistakes had been made. On further pressing, they said that they did not submit the Foster Parent case to be scrutinized! That's when Quinney made his famous statement.
If they didn't like the idea of Joyce Milgaard camping on the legislature lawn, how would they feel about two dozen people that they have, through official misdeeds, branded as sex offenders -- child molesters! -- camping on the lawn?
REGINA - David Milgaard is about to receive the largest settlement package in Canadian criminal history. The Saskatchewan government has announced it is offering Milgaard $10 million as a settlement for being wrongfully imprisoned for almost a quarter of a century.
TALLY: Is $10 million enough?
Saskatchewan Justice Minister John Nilson made the announcement on Monday in Regina.
"This has been a complex and difficult matter," Nilson said. "Throughout this process our government has remained committed to achieving fair settlement for the Milgaards."
Most of the money will go to Milgaard who spent 22 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, but a share will also go to his mother, Joyce, who fought for years to clear his name. It will be up to Milgaard to decide how much of the money he will share with his brothers and sisters.
Joyce Milgaard said the family will keep it private how the money will be divided up. She said, "It was the whole family that did this - it wasn't just Joyce Milgaard."
The federal government will contribute $4 million to the settlement while the government of Saskatchewan will contribute the remaining $6 million. Milgaard and his family signed the deal on Sunday evening.
The settlement follows nearly two years of drawn-out negotiations between Milgaard's lawyers and retired Quebec judge Alan Gold, who represented the NDP government.
While Milgaard may be a millionaire the settlement can never make up for the 46-year-old's long and torturous ordeal, supporters say.
Milgaard was just 17 when he was sent to prison in 1970 for the brutal sex-slaying of nursing aide Gail Miller in Saskatoon. He suffered horrendous abuse behind bars. He was raped and tried to commit suicide. He escaped twice and was shot while being recaptured by police in Toronto.
Milgaard was released from prison in 1992 after years of efforts by his mother led to a review of his case by the Supreme Court of Canada. The high court threw out Milgaard's conviction and he was finally exonerated in July 1997 after DNA tests proved that semen found at the crime scene didn't match his.
Larry Fisher has since been charged with the rape and murder of Gail Miller. His trial begins Oct. 12 in Yorkton, Sask.
Milgaard's lawyers contend Saskatoon police and Saskatchewan justice officials covered up or ignored evidence pointing to another suspect, even going so far as to destroy files relevant to the case.
Milgaard, who lives with his wife in Vancouver, launched two lawsuits against officials. It wasn't immediately clear if the lawsuits will be dropped as a result of the settlement.
The Saskatchewan Justice Department apologized to Milgaard after he was exonerated and promised a settlement and a public inquiry.
While the settlement issue is now settled, it could be years before the inquiry is called. That's because it must wait until Fisher's trial is over.
Justice Minister John Nilson today made the following statement:
"With respect to the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard, we have carefully assessed the question of how compensation should be determined and the issue of whether a public inquiry will be held. I am pleased today to announce developments with respect to both of these matters.
"The Saskatchewan Department of Justice has asked the Honourable Alan B. Gold, the retired Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court, to enter into negotiations with David Milgaard and his family on behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan. The purpose of these negotiations is to determine the amount of compensation to be paid to Mr. Milgaard for his wrongful conviction, including the question of interim payment. The negotiations will proceed immediately.
"Mr. Gold has returned to private practice and has a national reputation as a skillful mediator. In the past year, he successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of the Ontario government for compensation to be paid to Guy-Paul Morin, who had been wrongfully convicted of murder. "We have asked Mr. Gold to negotiate with the objective of achieving a fair and principled settlement. We are confident that his expertise in similarly difficult and unique matters will help us to frame the principles around settlement and negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to both the government and the Milgaards.
"Today, I am also announcing that the Government of Saskatchewan will hold a full, public inquiry into the investigation of the death of Gail Miller and the subsequent conviction of David Milgaard. This inquiry will proceed as soon as it is clear it will not interfere with any criminal proceedings or civil litigation. Further details will be announced at an appropriate time," Nilson said.