TORONTO - Joyce Milgaard is denying a report that says her son David will receive the largest criminal compensation award in Canadian history.
The Globe and Mail says the Saskatchewan government has agreed to pay David Milgaard $10 million. It says he will get $2 million cash up front and $20,000 a month tax-free for life, in what would be the largest criminal compensation package in Canadian history, by far.
But Joyce Milgaard says negotiations are continuing and that she is upset the report, which she calls untrue, has been published. The Globe said Ottawa would pay part of the compensation.
Details of the agreement are expected to be announced next week. Included in the compensation is a sizeable payment for legal fees. Milgaard's lawyers have worked for little or nothing on the case for more than a decade.
The deal does not include compensation for pain, suffering and lost opportunities for Milgaard's immediate family, The Globe said. Two years ago, Milgaard, 46, emerged from a 28-year nightmare as DNA evidence conclusively proved what he had said all along: that he did not commit the 1969 sex-slaying of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller.
REGINA (CP) - David Milgaard may finally be about to receive full financial compensation for the 22 years he spent in prison wrongly convicted of murder. After nearly two years of negotiations, a deal appeared to be close at hand.
Joyce Milgaard, who fought tenaciously to clear her son's name, said negotiators broke a logjam over the weekend.
"They met, they're talking numbers," she said Monday from her home in Winnipeg.
"Now its a matter of talking these numbers over with David."
The apparent breakthrough came in a meeting between Milgaard lawyer Hersh Wolch and Alan Gold, a retired Quebec judge who is negotiating for Saskatchewan's NDP government.
It also came amid mounting political pressure by Joyce Milgaard who had threatened to set up a tent in front of the Saskatchewan legislature to protest the slow pace of talks.
That protest and a planned meeting with Saskatchewan Justice Minister John Nilson are now on hold.
Wolch said his meeting with Gold went well but he wouldn't discuss any details.
"It was very positive," he said. "We appreciate the way things are going and there's a lot of work to be done."
Wolch wouldn't speculate how long it might be before a deal is announced.
Gold has been negotiating with Milgaard's lawyers since August 1997.
Milgaard, 45, has already received three interim payments totalling $500,000.
Milgaard was temporarily committed to a psychiatric institution in B.C. last week by a doctor who was concerned about his emotional state.
Joyce Milgaard described her son's condition as "fragile" and blamed the incident on the stress from the compensation delay.
"I'm praying that everybody will do the right thing," she said. "I would just so like to have it over. Would it ever be nice to be a normal family."
Milgaard was sentenced to life in 1969 for the sex slaying of nursing aide Gail Miller in Saskatoon.
He was released from prison in 1992, but only after years of efforts by his mother led to a Supreme Court of Canada review.
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 murder. His trial begins October 12 in Yorkton, Sask.
Larry Fisher died in prison June 9, 2015
Milgaard's lawyers have raised many concerns about the way the legal system handled the case.
They contend Saskatoon police and Saskatchewan justice officials covered up or ignored evidence pointing to another suspect, even going so far as to destroy relevant files.
Milgaard, who lives with his wife in Vancouver, launched two lawsuits against officials. One accuses five former prosecutors and Saskatoon police officers of wrongful conviction and conspiracy.
The other accuses former justice minister Bob Mitchell of libel for comments he made about Milgaard.
The Saskatchewan Justice Department apologized to Milgaard after he was exonerated and promised compensation and a public inquiry. But it could be years before the inquiry is called because that must wait until Fisher's trial is over.
Milgaard is the latest in a string of similar high-profile cases.
Gold previously negotiated a $1.2-million compensation package on behalf of the Ontario government for Guy Paul Morin, who was wrongly convicted of murdering a nine-year-old girl.
Donald Marshall, a Nova Scotia Micmac who spent 11 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, won compensation of $270,000 plus a monthly annuity.
In 1997, a Quebec court awarded former journalist Benoit Proulx $1.6 million for his wrongful conviction in the 1982 slaying of his ex-girlfriend. Proulx spent two months in prison.
REGINA - The Saskatchewan government sent another $150,000 interim payment to David Milgaard Monday, but his mother Joyce is "flipping mad" about the delay of a final payment so she's setting up camp on the lawn of the Saskatchewan legislature next week.
"Now, I'm enraged. I'm going to pitch a tent and anyone that wants to can come join me. Maybe they'll arrest me, but I'm going to be there. I'm going to stay there until they finish up what they should have years ago."
It's been two years since the Saskatchewan government agreed to compensate Milgaard for the 23 years he spent behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of the 1969 murder of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller.
After making the apology in 1997, the government appointed Justice Alan Gold to negotiate a final compensation. To date, Gold has been paid $50,000 for his services.
Milgaard has received a total of $500,000 in compensation since then, including a $150,000-payment made Monday.
"Not one penny of that money is going to the family and yet they've released it to make it sound like it is and I think that's diabolical," Joyce Milgaard said in a telephone interview from Ottawa Monday.
The payment will reimburse Milgaard's lawyers for the research they did for Gold so he could assess the family's
"We've been told by an insider that the Saskatchewan government is concerned about paying the Milgaards when the farmers are hurting, the nurses want more money and when there's an election coming up. So they're stalling until after the election. Well, that doesn't cut it," Joyce Milgaard said.
Nilson wouldn't promise Monday he'll speak to Joyce Milgaard if she sets up her tent on the legislature lawn next Tuesday.
"We have been working with our lawyers and we continue to work with the Milgaard lawyers, and it's not our plan to negotiate through the press."
Nilson denied he received Gold's recommendation in January on a final compensation. He said the government is aware David Milgaard wants the cash so he can get on with his life.economic status.
"We know that this is a tragedy that needs to be redressed. We've already given him a half a million dollars and we're continuing work with our legal team and the Milgaards' legal team to see if it can be resolved."
The negotiations are complex and take time, he added.
Joyce Milgaard says David is in fragile condition now because it's been stressful waiting for the negotiations to end and because of the intimate details he's learned about his family's plight in the book she recently launched - A Mother's Story, The Fight to Free My Son David.
"I wrote the book because I thought it was important that people knew just what the family had put out. Everybody used to see me standing out there, they never really saw what the family did," she said.
David's father, Lorne Milgaard, had heart surgery planned but decided against it because he must take time off work following the surgery. "He's afraid to lose his job because nothing is settled. It's just wrong what they're doing. They made a mistake they should fix it."
David Milgaard has again been locked up against his will, but this time he was committed for psychiatric care by a doctor who was concerned about his fragile emotional state, Joyce Milgaard said Wednesday.
"I can only imagine what it must be doing to him to be suddenly locked up again. Even if it's not a jail, to him it will be. He must be re-living so many things. It can't help but be sheer torture for him to be back in a place where he has no power to leave," she said in a soft, shaky voice during a telephone interview from Winnipeg.
Her book about David's struggle was launched last month and it revealed he was subjected to gang rape while in jail for the 1969 murder of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. He spent almost 23 years in jail before being released in 1992 after a Supreme Court review. He was finally exonerated in 1997 after DNA tests proved semen found at the crime scene didn't match his.
Joyce Milgaard blames the Saskatchewan government for the torture David is enduring now. "It could have been avoided if the Saskatchewan government had acted responsibly. I hold this over their head as just another thing they've done — they're hurting him again, again and again."
David Milgaard has suffered two years in limbo waiting for the Saskatchewan government to negotiate a final compensation settlement. In 1997, the Saskatchewan government appointed former Quebec Superior Court Justice Alan Gold to negotiate the package.
And after reading his mother's book, David Milgaard has experienced a renewed sense of guilt about how his arrest changed the lives of his three siblings and parents.
Joyce Milgaard said she was shocked to find out her son was committed Monday by a doctor who didn't know him when David went in to get a prescription filled in a small town in British Columbia.
David disappeared after he went out for a walk alone. He ended up in a town that his mother wouldn't identify, committed against his will for psychiatric treatment.
"The doctor examining him didn't realize all he's been through and just locked him up," Joyce Milgaard said.
She and David's wife are trying to free him from confinement. "We're trying to work something out about getting him out and into a friendlier environment."
Joyce Milgaard may fly out to see David depending on his state, but she's determined to be in Regina by Tuesday to pitch her pup tent on the lawn at the Legislative Building.
She wants to pressure Premier Roy Romanow into agreeing to a compensation soon.
Romanow told reporters Wednesday he hasn't ruled out meeting with Joyce Milgaard when she comes to Regina. This was a change of heart from what he said Tuesday about staying out of the negotiations. The discussion should remain between the government's lawyers and the Milgaard family's lawyers, he said then.
"I'm not ruling out a meeting," he said Wednesday.
"I think the most important thing is to try to do what's right for the Milgaard family and to do it as quickly as possible in a very complex file," he said on the way into his office. Romanow said he was about to take a phone call from Prime Minister Jean Chretien to discuss the Milgaard case.
Joyce Milgaard won her bid Tuesday for a meeting with Chretien while she was in Ottawa to discuss other wrongful conviction cases. She was invited to his home at 24 Sussex Dr., where she asked him to use his friendship with Romanow to push for a final compensation.
To date, the family has received $500,000 in interim payments, but most of that money has been used for legal bills and other bills racked up as the family fought to free David over the past 30 years.
The federal government will likely pay for some of the Milgaard compensation package because David spent nearly 23 years in a federal penitentiary, his lawyer Greg Rodin said in a telephone interview from Calgary.
"It would be fair to say that they're responsible for the conditions in there. The conditions, for a variety of reasons, were abhorrent. They also run the parole system. A guilty person would have been paroled a hell of a lot earlier. The system basically abused him, so we think that there is some responsibility on behalf of the federal government for what went on in there."
Justice Minister John Nilson agreed to talk money with Joyce Milgaard Tuesday, but she's preparing to pitch her tent just in case.
She's been threatening for weeks to set up her pup tent on the lawn of the Legislative Building to pressure the government into finalizing a compensation package for her son David who was wrongfully convicted of the 1969 murder of nursing aide Gail Miller.
"It's wonderful that he's willing to talk to me ... but I'm bringing my pup tent along just in case," she said in a telephone interview Thursday from Winnipeg.
Milgaard refused to talk with Nilson unless he comes to the table with a proposal for compensation because "I'm not there to just have a photo opportunity with him." The family's lawyers will also join the meeting, she said.
Earlier in the day, Nilson told reporters it's possible "there could be some meeting of the minds next week."
Joyce Milgaard has had a busy week gathering support for her face-off with the Saskatchewan government. On Tuesday, she landed a meeting with Prime Minister Jean Chretien at his home where she asked him to help lean on the Saskatchewan government. On Wednesday, Chretien talked with Premier Roy Romanow by phone and the government's reluctance to meet with Milgaard softened immediately.
Now Joyce Milgaard is determined to nail Nilson down on a final compensation package for her son David and for others who are wrongfully convicted after him.
Negotiations on the compensation package have been edging along for two years and David is faltering under the burden of endless haggling about money, his mother said.
A total of $500,000 in interim payments have been paid out by the government but it's been sucked up in legal costs incurred over 30 years of fighting for justice. The most recent legal bills were racked up as the family compiled information requested by the Saskatchewan government. So David still doesn't have much money to live on, his mother said.
"They met, they're talking numbers," she said yesterday from her home in Winnipeg. "Now it's a matter of talking these numbers over with David." The apparent breakthrough came in a meeting between Milgaard lawyer Hersh Wolch and Alan Gold, a retired Quebec judge who is negotiating for Saskatchewan's NDP government. It also came amid mounting political pressure by Joyce Milgaard who had threatened to set up a tent in front of the Saskatchewan legislature to protest the slow pace of talks.
That protest and a planned meeting with Saskatchewan Justice Minister John Nilson are now on hold. Wolch said his meeting with Gold went well but he wouldn't discuss any details or speculate how long it might be before a deal is announced. Gold has been negotiating with Milgaard's lawyers since August, 1997. Milgaard, 45, has already received three interim payments totalling $500,000. Milgaard was temporarily committed to a psychiatric institution in B.C. last week by a doctor who was concerned about his emotional state. Joyce Milgaard described her son's condition as "fragile" and blamed the incident on the stress from the compensation delay.
"I'm praying that everybody will do the right thing," she said. "I would just so like to have it over." Milgaard was sentenced to life in 1969 for the sex slaying of nursing aide Gail Miller in Saskatoon. He was released from prison in 1992, but only after years of efforts by his mother led to a Supreme Court of Canada review. 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.
Yet Nilson acknowledged David deserves compensation for the wrongs he endured during 23 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
Joyce Milgaard hardened her resolve this week after learning David was committed to a psychiatric ward in a small town in the Okanagan Valley on Monday. A doctor who didn't know him was concerned about his agitated state when he went in to renew his prescription for drugs to treat his depression.
"What David really needs is closure, this finality. So that's what I'm heading for," said Joyce Milgaard.
Nilson defended the length of time it is taking to negotiate a final package, saying it's a complex file that affects not only David but his three siblings and parents.
"It's not very simple to see how all of these things fit together," said Nilson.
"What's complex about it? They've damaged David," Joyce Milgaard said. "They have the economic survey and everything there to tell them what the cost of that damage was. Why can't they come forward and say 'we're prepared to do something about it'?"
Nilson said Saskatchewan government lawyers only got their hands on the complete 2,000-page Milgaard claim in February.
But Joyce Milgaard disputed that, saying the largest piece of the claim was given to Saskatchewan lawyers in September and only 30 pages were turned over to them in the new year.
Nilson said despite the complexity of the file, there's no plan to "put off or in any way diminish" the family's claim.
The federal government will also be contributing money to the compensation package, he added.
In the wrongful conviction cases of Donald Marshall and Guy Paul Morin, the federal government put in half of the money.
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