Archive | The experience of being called as a juror

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Archives | The Experience to be called as a juror

Court drawing, Hells Angels trial 1986, screenshot from Montreal tonight, October 20, 1992.

Have you ever received a court summons? Being part of a jury is a great responsibility. While some people want to be exempted from this civic duty, others see it as an opportunity to live a unique experience. Our archives bear witness to the experience of prospective jurors and members of juries during trials.

On October 20, 1992, journalist Pascale Nadeau went to the Montreal courthouse to talk to people who were milling about in the halls of the establishment while waiting to find out if they would be selected to be jurors. /p>

Report by journalist Pascale Nadeau on the experience of the people chosen to form the jury. Director: Robert Larivière

These people were called randomly from the electoral list. About 150 people are summoned and 12 are retained, due to the seriousness of the charges and the media coverage of the cause.

When a person receives a summons, they are in the obligation to appear at the courthouse.

Some exemptions exist, such as age (65 years and over), disabilities or physical health problems, heavy family responsibilities or the type of employment held (military, justice officials, members of the National Assembly). Few people can escape this obligation.

It is estimated that nearly 40% of people who are called to serve as jurors try to receive an exemption.

In the report, the atmosphere is feverish. It is awaited to know which people will be named as jurors in the murder trial.

The report discusses the subject of the indemnities received by jurors or prospective jurors, amounts which have since changed. The per diem today is set at “$103 per day of hearing or segregation, even in the case of a half day. From the 57th day of the trial, it is increased to $160”.

Jurors and prospective jurors also receive amounts for their accommodation, meals and travel expenses.

Lise Ashby reflects on her experience as a juror during a trial of the Hells Angels in 1986. The grueling period of deliberation lasted 15 days. Two weeks where she was cut off from the world and her family.

“For me, it was a shock. It was beyond my understanding. It was something for detective novels. It was not something for real life. After the trial, I had nightmares, I dreamed that the judge summoned me again. I was really emotionally drained.

— Lise Ashby, juror at the 1986 Hells Angels trial

Fear is a feeling that often comes back to those who are called to be jurors. Mr. Vincent, assistant to the Crown attorney, however, affirms that, throughout his long career as a lawyer, he has never witnessed reprisals against a member of the jury.

The On March 18, 1983, a team from the program Repères took an interest in the constitution and role of juries.

Journalist Aline Desjardins presents a report on the formation and role of a jury. Director: Luc Paradis. Host: Gérard Marie Boivin and Aline Desjardins

In this report, journalist and host Aline Desjardins meets a juror, a lawyer, a judge and also an accused who has chosen a trial by jury .

Raymond, a criminal who was tried to 14 years in prison for drug trafficking, chose with his lawyer to face trial by jury.

The right to trial by jury for an accused facing a sentence of five years or more is guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution.

At that time, lawyers and their client could choose the members who would make up the jury. This is no longer the case since September 19, 2019.

By abolishing the peremptory challenges of jurors available to the accused, Bill C-75 has significantly changed the way selection of juries.

Before September 2019, each lawyer had a bank of 4, 12 or 20 peremptory challenges, depending on the type of charges. There was no explanation for a refusal.

In the report, Estelle Parent talks about her experience which she describes as intimidating.

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“We go before the judge, the defense lawyers, the crown attorneys and the defendants who have the same rights as everyone else to refuse us or to accept us. We are looked at from head to toe, we are rejected or we are accepted. »

— Estelle Parent, member of a jury in 1981

In a jury trial, the judge remains master of his decision, as Jean-Paul Bergeron reminds us, Superior Court judge. The judge is the master of the law and the jury is the master of the facts.

“After hearing all the testimonials, I walked away feeling like we weren't wrong. But the fact remains that it is the judge who gives the last word and when I learned of the sentence received by the accused, I found it appalling. »

— Estelle Parent, member of a jury in 1981

In Canada, jurors must speak with one voice. The deliberations continue as long as the jury has not come to a unanimous guilty verdict.

According to Me Réjean Paul of the Reform Commission of law, the trial before 12 jurors who must render a unanimous judgment remains the best way to avoid errors.

« A unanimous verdict given by 12 jurors is more likely to be informed, to have been fully considered by everyone. »

— Maître Réjean Paul, Law Reform Commission

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