A. How common are jury trails?
- Jury trials are rare in Canada
- 2 types of trials:
1. Civil trail – eg: roommate not paying rent
- No absolute right to a jury trail
2. Criminal trials – offences against the crown.
“ offence against the queen”
- the right to a jury is a constitutional right
- everyone has a right to a trail by a jury
- only extends to some criminal offences, only for more serious offences (penalty of 5
years or more in prison).
- For some criminal offences criminals can get a jury trails
- Serious consequences = jury trail
Part 2: The role of juries
1. They apply the law as defined by judges
2. To the admissible evidence, and
3. Render a unanimous verdict of guilt or not guilty
- Juries “represent the community” where the crime occur, so its assumed that their
verdict are more publically accepted
- Jurers serve as the conscience of the community, so they can guard against laws that
are precived to be unfair
- Juries can nullify the law. Eg: Dr. Morgentaler provided abortion in private clinics.
This was illegal initially, but the jury was against the law and they changed it.
Part 3: Two characteristics of a “Good” jury
- Representative of community where the crime occurred.
1. “Typical” selection procedure
- obtain list of ppl in community eg: voter registration, census, local phone book.
- This is what is called “ jury pool” – potential jures
- Then they are randomly selected from the pool
- This called a “jury panel”
- Each person on the panel is sent a jury summons (court order to appear for jury
- If you ignore the jury summons, you can be fined or be sent to jail
- Given number
- Number are randomly selected (12 in crimincal trails; 6 in civil trail)
- If you are randomly selected you “usually become jurors unless
2. Things that can keep people off a jury:
- Not eligible for jury dute – Canadian citizen; live in Ontario; 18+
- Must not be: member of house of commons, senate, judge, lawyer, law student, police
officer, MD, vet, coroner, a mental and physical disability (it cannot be any disability,
just the ones that interferes with your judging), ex-con. b. Being challenged by one of the lawyers
- if successful, person is sent back to jury room (might be selected for another trail)
3. Things to note about selection procedure:
- no guarantee that jury will be representative eg: biased “pool” such as homeless ppl,
such as a voter registration list not everyone is registered as a voter.
- Its bias because not all members of the community is involved. Ppl are excluded.
- If the lawyer thinks that the juror did not represent the case, lawyers can appeal
Juries must be “impartial”
1. Involves 3 issues :
a. can set aside all pre-existing biases (prejudices; attiudes about type of crime)
b. must ignore all inadmissible evidence eg: things reported in the media
c. no connection to accused; no personal interest in particular outcome of the trail.
2. Steps taken to ensure impartiality: