Gouvernement du Québec - Justice

Jury duty


What is the role of a juror?
 
1m 13s
How are prospective jurors selected and summoned?
 
56s
How can you be exempted from jury duty?
 
1m 07s
The day prospective jurors appear for jury selection
 
1m 40s
Where do jurors stay during the trial?
 
46s
Is ignoring a summons serious?
Can an employer dismiss an employee who is called to jury duty?
1m 50s



Jury duty.Serving on a jury is a fundamental duty in our society. It involves playing an active role in the administration of justice, together with other citizens, by rendering a verdict of guilty or innocent in a case heard before a criminal court.

If you are summoned as a juror, you should know exactly what is expected of you, what you have to do at the trial and what compensation or allowances you may receive.


What does a juror do?

A juror is a member of a group of twelve citizens, called a jury, selected to decide the guilt or innocence of a person accused of a criminal offence.

The jury hears the persons called to testify at the trial and examines the documents or exhibits submitted as evidence. Its members must form an opinion based on the facts presented at the trial and the explanations given by the judge. The jury’s decision is called the “verdict” and must be unanimous.

If the jury finds the accused not guilty, he or she is acquitted immediately. If the jury finds the accused guilty, the judge pronounces the appropriate sentence, either immediately or at a later date.

How does one qualify to be a juror?

To qualify as a juror, a person must be

  • a Canadian citizen;
  • of full age (18 years or over); and
  • registered on the list of electors.

Can anyone be a juror?

The law provides that the following persons cannot serve on a jury:

  • judges of courts of law and municipal judges;
  • officers of the court (clerks, sheriffs, etc.);
  • members of the Privy Council, the Senate, the House of Commons of Canada, the Conseil exécutif or the National Assembly of Québec;
  • peace officers and fire fighters;
  • practising lawyers or notaries;
  • coroners;
  • persons afflicted with a mental disability or mental illness;
  • persons who are not sufficiently fluent in French or English;
  • persons charged with or convicted of a criminal offence;
  • the spouses of judges, lawyers, notaries, officers of the court or members of the Privy Council, the Senate, the House of Commons of Canada, the Conseil exécutif, the National Assembly of Québec, peace officers and persons charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.

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Can a person be exempted from jury duty?

No one may refuse to be a juror although certain persons may apply for an exemption. They include

  • public servants involved in the administration of justice and their spouses;
  • members of the Canadian Regular Forces;
  • the personnel of the National Assembly of Québec;
  • ministers of religion;
  • persons 65 years of age or older and their spouses;
  • people suffering from a physical or sensorial handicap;
  • persons whose health or domestic obligations are incompatible with serving on a jury;
  • persons who have served or have been chosen for jury duty in the five years preceding the date on which they are summoned again;
  • persons who have a reason found to be reasonable by the sheriff.

How are prospective jurors selected?

The names of prospective jurors are taken from the list of electors. Names are selected at random whenever a jury is required. The people whose names are chosen become prospective jurors, and they are summoned to the courthouse where the members who will set on the jury will be selected.

How are prospective jurors summoned?

The sheriff sends a summons to the prospective jurors at least 30 days before the date on which their presence is required in court or within any other time ordered by the judge, which cannot be less than 8 days. The appearance date and time are indicated on the summons. (The summons is a formal and binding order to appear at the courthouse).

Is ignoring a summons a serious matter?

Yes. If you fail to comply with a summons, you become liable to penal proceedings.

How is an exemption obtained?

To be exempted from jury duty, a prospective juror must complete and sign the form included with the summons in order to request an exemption, declare a disqualification or request to serve at a later criminal court session. The form must be accompanied by an affidavit and sent to the sheriff by registered or certified mail within 20 days of receiving the summons.

If the sheriff does not grant the exemption, you may submit your reasons for requesting the exemption to review by the judge on the day you appear at the courthouse for jury selection.

Can an employer dismiss an employee summoned as a juror?

Persons summoned as jurors are protected by law. An employer cannot dismiss, suspend or reassign an employee who has been summoned or who has served as a juror, take discriminatory measures or reprisals against the employee or impose any other penalty. However, an employer may not be required to pay the salary of a person who is absent on jury duty, unless the contrary is provided for in a collective agreement or other contract of employment.

An employee who is penalized solely for performing jury duty may file a complaint with the Commission des relations du travail Clicking on this icon will take you to another website. and initiate penal proceedings.

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How long does jury duty last?

The summons received by a prospective juror states the criminal court session for which the jury duty is required. A session normally lasts two or three months and several cases are heard. A person who is not retained as a juror for the case for which he or she was summoned may be called for other cases heard during the same session, but only insofar as the person has not already served jury duty.

A person called to serve as a juror for a criminal court session may obtain a postponement to a later session if prevented from serving during the session for which he or she was originally summoned.

Where do jurors stay during the trial?

Generally, jurors return home after each day of a hearing. It is only at the very end of the trial, from the time the jury retires to consider its verdict, that the jurors must stay together in a hotel, without contact with the outside.

In order to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings, a juror is never authorized to discuss the case with anyone except other members of the same jury.

What compensation and allowances may be granted to prospective jurors and to jury members?

The following amounts may be granted to prospective jurors called to a jury selection, and to jury members:

  • transportation – the cost of public transport or $0.43 per kilometre and parking costs if they travel by car;
  • breakfast - $10.40;
  • lunch - $14.30;
  • dinner - $21.55;
  • accommodation - between $83 and $138 per night. If the accommodation provided is not in a hotel, the allowance is $79 per night.

No compensation is paid for the time spent in the courthouse for jury selection if the prospective juror is dismissed. However, those selected to form a jury receive compensation equivalent to the amount of the daily allowance (see below) since they must remain in the courthouse to receive the instructions necessary to fulfill their duty, and because the trial could start the same day.

Throughout the trial, jurors are entitled to compensation of $103 for each day or part of a day of the hearing and deliberation, and for the time they spend confined to the premises designated by the sheriff. This amount is increased to $160 per day on the 57th day after the jury is formed. Jury members receive a supplementary allowance of $52 if the deliberations continue into the evening and $103 if they continue until the next day. They also receive a supplementary allowance for each day falling on a non-juridical day1

Upon the order of a judge, jurors are entitled to an allowance for childcare or for the care of other people under their responsibility. As an indication only, the maximum weekly allowance payable on presentation of vouchers is

  • $125 if the juror is taking care of one person;
  • $165 if the juror is taking care of two people;
  • $210 if the juror is taking care of three people;
  • $249 if the juror is taking care of four people or more.

All allowances are readjusted every year on January 1*
________

* Please note that the allowances indicated above take effect on 1 January 2013

Upon the order of a judge and on presentation of vouchers, jurors may receive an allowance covering the cost of psychological therapy, for a maximum of five one-hour sessions, at $65 per hour.

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1. Non-juridical days are: Sundays, January 1 and 2, Good Friday, Easter Monday, June 24, July 1 (July 2 if July 1 falls on a Sunday), December 25 and 26, the day fixed by proclamation of the Governor General for the celebration of the birthday of the Sovereign, and any other day fixed by proclamation or order of the Government as a public holiday or as a day of thanksgiving (first Monday in September, second Monday in October). Note that Saturday is considered a non-juridical day only in calculating a time period. See Court calendar (2014, 2015)

For more information

The jurisdiction of each court in Québec:
     • The Court System
Legal proceedings and sentences:
     • Victims of crime - Understanding the court system and sentencing procedure
The various stages in the judicial process for minors:
     • The Youth Criminal Justice Act: The legal procedure
     • Understanding the youth criminal justice system

The content of this document is strictly informative and has no legal value.

If you find some of the information difficult to understand, do not hesitate to contact us. Please note, however, that we cannot interpret the information to apply it to a specific situation.

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Latest update: June 18, 2014



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