Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System

Executive Summary: List of Recommendations

In light of the issues raised in this report, the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System deems that it would be advisable to make the following recommendations for making jury trials more efficient.

  1. Facilitate the election of trial by a superior court judge alone by an accused charged with an offence listed in s. 469 Cr.C.
  2. Optimize pre-trial conferences and encourage a proactive role for the presiding judge by the enactment of a provision similar to the new s. 536.4 Cr.C. (Extend the application of Recommendation 5 of the Steering Committee's report on mega-trials to all jury trials.)
  3. Encourage codification of the specific powers recognized by the case law on case management in rules of court under s. 482.1 Cr.C.
  4. Amend s. 631 Cr.C. to provide for the systematic calling of prospective jurors by their number only and to restrict access by the parties to their personal information. In so doing, consider the orders that have been made to that effect under a judge's inherent powers, keeping in mind the original reasons for calling out the names of prospective jurors and allowing access by the parties to that information.
  5. Facilitate the obtaining of orders banning publication and broadcast of information that could serve to identify a juror by an amendment to the Criminal Code.
  6. Examine the advisability of codifying the judge's power to order other more exceptional measures to protect the anonymity and safety of jurors, while preserving the accused's right to a fair trial.
  7. In their compensation scheme for jurors and in the conditions under which they must fulfil their functions, provincial and territorial jurisdictions should consider:
    1. expenses for supervision or care of dependents that a juror would not otherwise incur;
    2. in the case of long trials, the jury's non-sitting days, at least for jurors who are not paid for those days under a collective agreement and cannot go into work on those days, either because of the structure of the juror's employer or the human investment required for the trial;
    3. the importance of the quality of infrastructures and accommodations at their disposal (deliberation rooms, resting rooms, etc.);
    4. the possibility of compensating prospective jurors who are not selected;
    5. rates paid to public service employees for payment of meal and travel expenses.
  8. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions should consult the judiciary when establishing juror fees and expenses.
  9. Jurors should be sufficiently informed about all compensation to which they are entitled and how to submit requests.
  10. Consideration should be given to making legislative amendments to encourage dejudicialization of the exemption process to a judicial officer in view of the existing provincial and territorial legislative provisions on jury panels setting out grounds for exemption.
  11. Section 640 Cr.C. should be amended to have challenges for cause decided by the judge rather than the two jurors who were last sworn.
  12. The Canadian Judicial Council should be encouraged to continue its work on the development of model jury instructions and to give consideration to determining the best process for promoting the use of and compliance with model instructions (training, more formal judicial guidelines, regulations, etc.).
  13. The Canadian Judicial Council should be encouraged to develop judicial guidelines on issues that arise in judge-jury relations, more specifically in relation to:
    • requests for re-hearing of testimony or statements;
    • allegations of misconduct or partiality within the jury during the trial or deliberations;
    • re-hearing arguments and/or obtaining a transcript of the parties' arguments to the jury or written arguments explaining their respective theories;
    • providing the jury with a transcript or a copy of the jury instructions;
    • processing questions by the jury.
  14. Examine more thoroughly the advisability and feasibility of legislative amendments
    1. to make it possible for jurors to be separated during deliberation when appropriate and, if so, to continue the publication ban prescribed in section 648 Cr.C. until the verdict is returned;
    2. to confirm the discretion of the trial judge to extend a media ban on publication of information related to a portion of the trial at which the jury is not present until the verdict is returned, based on the implications arising from the rights protected by paragraph 2(b) of the Charter;
    3. to amend the rule of secrecy of jury deliberations to permit studies of how juries work by providing the necessary framework without compromising the principles underlying the rule.
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