How Jury Members Are Picked In Manitoba
Juries are an essential aspect of many court trials. You may have learned about them in films, television, novels, and so on. Trial by jury is one of the keystones of the legal system in Manitoba. You will often see a jury on specific trials, such as criminal cases, defamation, false imprisonment, malicious arrest, and more cases.
Most juries are made up of twelve randomly chosen individuals who must be unrelated to the case. During the trial, the jury will take in the information given by the defence, prosecuting lawyers, and witnesses on the stand. Once the trial is over, the jurors will deliberate in a private room where they must come to a verdict. This is referred to as charging the jury.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, you must be wondering about the jury selection process.
During the jury selection process, a summons letter or notice is mailed out to random individuals in a judicial district. The summons letter will instruct the individual to attend court, which is supervised by a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
When you appear in court on the date detailed in your summons letter, you will wait among many other chosen individuals as a member of the jury panel. During the process, twelve jurors will be randomly chosen by the counsel that represents the Crown and the accused. Each member on the panel will have a number. Twelve numbers will be drawn from a box of cards listing all members on the jury panel.
There are instances where numerous juries are arranged for multiple trials. You might end up spending a good portion of the jury day waiting around in case your number is called (so it’s a good idea to bring a good book to keep you busy).
If your number is called, you must appear before the judge where the Crown or defence may object to you serving as a juror. This is called the challenge for cause. You may be exempted if the Crown or defence believes you may be biased or have some connection to the trial that would make you unfit to be impartial.
The Jury Act of Manitoba states that an individual must be over the age of 18 and must also be a resident of Manitoba to serve as a juror.
You will also have a moment to present your own reasons as to why you may not be fit to serve as a juror for the trial.
Some examples of being excused from a jury include:
- Those with specific professions, such as elected officials or police officers
- If you have been recently convicted of a crime
- If you are unable to commit due to mental or physical reasons
- If you have a prearranged commitment, such as a trip or holiday
While the judge has the right to disregard your reasons, there is a good chance you can be exempt with a strong excuse.
There are certain individuals that are not allowed to be jurors, such as:
- Members/Officers of the MLA (Manitoba Legislative Assembly)
- Members/Officers of the House of Commons or Senate
- Lawyers/law students
- Members of police services
- Medical Examiners
Once you have sworn yourself in as a member of the jury, you will receive a juror number and only go by that number for the rest of the trial.
It can be difficult to understand the ins and outs of the legal system in Manitoba. That’s why you need knowledgeable defence attorneys determined to protect you against criminal prosecution. Visit https://mattgould.ca/ to find out more about the charges we cover.