The jury selection process (also called a jury panel) happens at the courthouse, community hall or building listed on your jury summons.
What to bring:
- The top portion of your summons document
- Picture ID
- Get yourself to the specified location stated on your summons – travel expenses like cab or bus fare are not reimbursed
- When you arrive at the specified location stated on your summons, follow directions / signs to the area where you can sign in with the sheriff
- The sheriff will explain where to go and what to do
- The selection process will begin in the courthouse, community hall or building and can take anywhere from half a day to a full day
What if I Don't Attend Jury Selection
Everyone summoned for jury duty must attend jury selection at the courthouse location for the date and time indicated on the summons – unless they have been exempted or disqualified in advance by the Sheriff’s office. Anyone who does not attend without valid exemption or disqualification may be subject to a range of consequences determined by the court.
Jury Selection Process for Criminal Trials
A criminal trial involves matters such as theft, mischief, assault, sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, bank robbery and drug cases. These types of offences are defined in the criminal code of canada.
In a criminal trial, the purpose of the jury selection process is for Crown counsel (also called the prosecution) and defense counsel (the lawyer for the person charged with the crime) to decide who they want on the jury.
12 to 14 jurors are chosen for criminal trials. Crown counsel, defense counsel, the accused (the person charged with the crime) and court staff are present during jury selection.
- The court clerk reads the charges and the accused is asked to plead guilty or not guilty – when the accused pleads not guilty, the jury selection begins.
- The court clerk will draw 12 jury ID numbers from the list of potential jurors (also called panelists) present.
- Each panelist will answer “here” when their jury ID number is called and move to the front of the court.
- Crown and defense counsel will agree or challenge each juror's participation until all 12-14 jurors are chosen.
- At this point, the case is typically adjourned (delayed to another time) and the jury is led out of the courtroom. In rare instances, the trial may proceed immediately.
Alternate jurors: A judge might decide to pick two alternate jurors.
The alternate juror must attend the first day of the trial. Upon direction of the court if an existing juror is unable to serve as a juror, the alternate juror will take their place for jury duty.
Jury Selection Process for Civil Trials
Jury selection for civil trials is similar to the process for criminal trials. Some key differences include:
- Plaintiffs and defendants: Civil trials resolve disputes between the plaintiff (the party that started the action) and the defendant (the party that the action is against) – both parties are represented at the jury selection
- Number of jurors: Only eight jurors are selected for civil trials
- Timing: Civil trials usually begin the same day the jury is chosen – if you are summoned for a civil trial, be prepared to spend the entire day at the courthouse
If You Are selected to be a Juror
Anyone who is selected as a juror for a trial will be sworn in or affirmed and then seated in the jury box.
If You Are Not Selected to be a Juror
A separate selection process takes place for each jury trial and several juries may be selected in one day. On the day of jury selection, anyone not selected to sit on a jury is dismissed. However, you may be required to come back for an additional selection date. If this happens, the judge will let you know before you leave the courtroom. In rare circumstances, a judge may order the Sheriffs to contact panelists at a later date to attend an additional selection process