A jury trial begins with the assembly of a jury panel. Dozens of members of the community are randomly chosen to gather in a courtroom. The judge arrives. The case is then called and a court official picks names from a drum to take their seats in the jury box.
Unlike the American system, lawyers do not ask questions of potential jurors in Ontario. The only information provided to the lawyers about a potential juror is his or her name, age, address and occupation. In civil cases a jury consists of six people. Each party to the lawsuit can “challenge” four jurors. When a juror is challenged, he or she is taken off the jury panel.
Many people dread receiving a jury notice. It is a big sacrifice to sit on a jury. You are taken from your daily routine. You are burdened with the responsibility of making decisions that will affect people for the rest of their lives. Being on a jury can be stressful.
Being on a jury can also be interesting and rewarding. I am always astonished at the dedication, hard work and wisdom of people on juries. It is impressive to see members of our community sit and attentively listen to evidence. It is extraordinary how, at the end of a trial, the jury decision is almost always fair and just.