Legal Word of the Day: “Jury”


Jury — A group of 12 members of a community who work together to reach a unanimous verdict as to the guilt or innocence of an accused person, based on the evidence presented to them in court.

Juries are ancient bodies; reference to them can be found in early civilizations such as Egypt, Greece and Norse culture. Ontario has used juries in its criminal and civil justice systems since the mid-1700s — when only male property owners could serve jury duty and the rolls were posted on church doors. In Ontario, the Juries Act, RSO 1990, c J.3 governs the jury system.

Juries may also be established under the Coroner’s Act, to hear evidence at an inquest into a death. Paralegals’ scope of practice includes provision of legal services related to Coroner’s Inquests.

The Director of Assessment and county sheriffs are responsible for compiling an annual jurors list. In practice, the responsibility is delegated to the Provincial Jury Center (PJC) in London, and to local court officials.

Each spring, Court Services staff at each Ontario Superior Court, in consultation with local judges, provide an estimate to the Provincial Jury Centre of the number of jurors they believe will be needed for all jury trials in the upcoming year. The Jury Centre tells the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) how many jurors are needed, and MPAC selects names at random from the list of municipal residents within each county and district. Section 6(8) of the Juries Act calls for the names of individuals living in First Nations communities to be acquired using any available record, since their names are not included in the MPAC records.

The Ontario government is implementing recommendations in a report by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci, regarding the representation of First Nations people on the jury roll. It was created after a series of cases, including Pierre v. McRae, 2011 ONCA 187, R. v. Kokopenace, 2013 ONCA 389, and R. v. Spiers, 2012 ONCA 798 (CanLII), which dealt with the representativeness of jury rolls.

Jurors are paid nothing for the first 10 days of a trial, then $40 a day up to the 15th day of trial, and $100 a day thereafter.

Related Cases:

R. v. Sherratt, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 509

R. v . Laws, 1998 CanLII 7157 (ON CA)

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