Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jury Panel Selection - The Finale


So, to finish off the long winded story, I was selected to be on the jury. Since I didn't have a good reason to be excused, both lawyers accepted me, and I sat down in the jury box. Once all the other selections were complete, the rest of the pool was dismissed, the court was adjourned and we were led out the door behind the jury box into the jury room.

The final jury was a fairly wide mix of individuals. It looked like about a 50/50 split male to female. It ranged from young guys and girls to a few middle age working types like myself. We were given details about what the procedure would be leading up to the trial. The court officer took all of our names and contact information to get in touch with us in case of any changes. We were told of the compensation we could expect ($20 a day although I think it goes up to $60 a day after 10 days and $100 a day after 50 days). Since our trial was expected to last about 10 days, we were due the paltry $20 / day. At least they gave us a parking pass so that we wouldn't be losing money ;-) Finally we were dismissed.

A week or so later I received a call that shifted the day when the jury was required to attend. Finally, about 5 days before the trial was due to begin, and after rearranging my work and actually looking forward to being on the jury - I got a phone message that the jury had been 're-elected' and my services were no longer required. Thank you for participating and your name will be withdrawn from jury pool selection for a couple of years. Bummer.... I looked up 're-elected' and (I could be wrong but) it appears that in Canada defendants have the right to change their mind and choose trial by judge even after the jury is selected which is apparently what happened in this case.

I should mention, that during the selection process most of the people had some sort of excuse not to attend. I'm not sure if it was because we were only selecting for one jury or whether the judge was just in a good mood, but I think anyone that had any sort of reason for not being able to attend was excused. The excuses ranged from financial hardship to planned travel. Seems to me that one business guy that said he had travel plans already booked was denied, but other than that pretty much any hardship excuse was allowed. That is why it took so many draws to fill the 12 + 3 alternates.

Also, as noted on that message board I referred to a couple of posts ago I totally agree that occupation seemed to be the only determining factor on being accepted or not. Most people's occupation was not mentioned specifically since the occupation was listed on their jury summons - so I'm not sure what some of the 'challenged' and removed jurors did for a living. That was the only question ever asked of a potential juror - 'what is/was your occupation?'. Confirming what was said in the post referred to above, the two professions that got rejected after being specifically mentioned were an educator and an insurance agent. Not sure what they have against those professions, but apparently they don't want them on a jury.

So ends my tale of possible jury duty. I kind of wish that I was able to follow through with the case now... being a criminal case, it sounded a little interesting. Since this is already the 2nd time I've been selected for a jury pool, I'm sure I'll be posting my experiences again in 3 years when my name comes up again.

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