Jury Duty and the Jury Selection Process
What is a jury trial and what does a jury do?
Jury duty is an important responsibility. It is an opportunity to participate in the justice system. It provides someone going to court the opportunity to have members of their community have a voice and decide their court matter. You serve jury duty when you are selected to sit as a juror on a jury trial.
You may receive a legal document in the mail or from a Sheriff called a jury summons. If you receive jury summons, it means that you have to go to court on the date in the summons. You may be selected to sit on a jury. Getting a jury summons does not mean you are in trouble or that you have charges. The law in Nunavut has rules about who is allowed to serve on a jury and who is not. You may also have a good reason that you cannot sit on a jury.
A jury is a group of people who have been selected to be on a jury at trial in a court of law. At a jury trial, the jury hears evidence and makes a decision at the end of the trial about the outcome of a case. A jury may be called for either a criminal or a civil trial.
In a criminal matter they decide together if an accused person is guilty or not guilty of the charges. In a civil trial, a jury can be asked to determine:
- If anyone is at fault in a situation
- To what degree a person is at fault
For example, in a case where someone is suing someone because they got hurt doing something, the jury would decide if it was the other persons fault the person suing them got hurt.
You do not need to know anything about the law to serve on a jury. When the court holds a jury trial, the judge at the jury trial is responsible for decisions about legal things at the trial, like what evidence the jury is allowed to hear. The judge will explain the law and any legal terms used to help you fairly consider the matter being heard in court. The jury listens to the evidence during the trial and makes the decision about the outcome of the case.
Do I have to go to court when I receive a jury summons?
If you receive a jury summons, you are required to go to court on the day it says unless you are excused by the Sheriff’s Office before the selection happens. If you are called on the day of the selection (and you may not be), you can also ask the judge at the jury selection to excuse you. If you think you have a good reason you can’t sit on this jury the first place you should call is the Sheriff’s Office at 1-866-286-0546.
You can contact the sheriff’s office to request to be excused before the date on the summons. If you are not excused and you do not show up, you can be charged with a criminal offence.
Why did I get a jury summons?
Your name was selected from the list maintained by the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff gets names from sources like Motor Vehicles Sometimes that information changes and by the time your name is picked, for example, you may have moved. Just because your name is on this list, doesn’t automatically mean you are able to sit on a jury – certain people are not allowed to sit on juries. Your name was randomly selected by the computer system that the Sheriff’s Office uses from the list of people who can be called for jury duty.
Who can sit as a juror?
Read the information that comes with the jury summons carefully. The summons includes a list of who is allowed to sit on a jury and who is not. For example, in Nunavut you are not allowed to be on a jury if you are a sitting MLA or MP; member of the RCMP; a correctional officer; a Sheriff; a lawyer; a practicing doctor, surgeon or dental surgeon; or work for the GN or Federal Department of Justice.
If you believe that you are not allowed to sit on a jury or you have a good reason why you can’t come to the selection, you can contact the Sheriff’s Office as soon as you receive your summons and they may be able to excuse you from attending court. Even if you are sure you are exempt, you must call the Sheriff’s Office to confirm or you have show up at the jury selection.
I have a good reason I can’t be on a jury right now, what do I do?
If you believe you have a good reason you can’t be on a jury, contact the Sheriff’s Office as soon as you receive your summons. The Sheriff is able to excuse people who have good reasons from attending at the jury selection. A good reason is generally something like having a medical travel or you are injured. The Sheriff will need to see your medical travel documents or a note from your doctor about your injury.
Sometimes people believe they cannot go to a jury trial because they have to work. A lot of people who receive jury summons have to work because court happens on work days. The Sheriff cannot excuse you from a jury selection because of work unless you are exempt from jury service because of your job. If you are not sure if you have a good reason, please call the Sheriff’s office. If the sheriff can’t excuse you, you can ask the judge at the jury selection
Are there any supports for Jurors in Nunavut?
Sometimes people worry about sitting on a jury because they hear information in court about things that may be difficult to deal with. In Nunavut, if you are selected to sit on a jury trial, you are able to received support such as counselling for up to year after the trial finishes.
I have to take time off work, are you paid to be on a Jury?
If you are selected to sit on a jury, you are entitled to be paid money for each day that you are serving. This is called a jury fee. The fee depends on how long the trial runs. The fee is $100/day for the first five days of a trial and $150/day for the sixth day and every day after that.
I don’t to be on a jury and I’m not going, what could happen?
If you have received a jury summons, unless you are excused by the Sheriff, you have to show up at court. If you don’t, you may be charged with an offence and fined between $25 and $200 dollars.
What is the law in Nunavut about jury duty?
A law in Nunavut called the Jury Act makes rules about things like the list of names that the Sheriff’s use. It also includes a list of who is allowed to be on a jury and who is not. If you would like a copy of the Jury Act, please call the Sheriff’s Office or visit www.nunavutlegislation.ca
Who can I talk to if have more questions?