- What qualifications do you need to serve on a jury?
- What if you receive a jury summons?
- Who can be excused from jury duty?
- What happens when you show up for jury selection?
Serving on a jury in our society is a privilege and a legal duty. You sit with a group of people and together you'll decide on the facts of a criminal or civil case. In criminal trials, there are 12 jurors; in civil trials, there are 6 jurors.
What qualifications do you need to serve on a jury?
You must be:
- a Canadian citizen;
- at least 19 years old; and
- able to understand and speak either English or French (depending on the trial).
What if you receive a jury summons?
A “jury summons” is a court order. Unless you've been excused from jury duty, you have to go to jury selection at a specific time and place. Each and every time you receive a summons you have to be excused by the sheriff or judge.
Although you may not be chosen as a juror, you do have to show up at jury selection. If you don’t show up, you may be subject to severe penalties provided by law.
How is a jury chosen?
Each time a jury trial is scheduled, the Sheriff’s Office summons potential jurors from the community of the trial. The number of summons varies, depending on the trial’s circumstances. Summonses are randomly generated. This means that any person in the community can be summoned.
- a summons;
- a Jury Certification Form; and
- a prepaid envelope
Fill out this form in a timely manner and submit it.
Andrew A. Philipsen Law Centre
2134 2nd Avenue (ground floor)
Mail:Government of Yukon
Court Services (J-3D)
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Who can be excused from jury duty?
Some people may not have to serve on a jury because:
- of the type of work they do; or
- they're otherwise unable or not allowed to.
People who cannot serve on a jury include:
- an RCMP member;
- a member of the Legislative Assembly;
- an elected First Nations chief;
- a lawyer;
- a social worker in the Yukon public service;
- a probation officer;
- a members of Queens’s Privy Council;
- a judge;
- a person convicted of a criminal offence:
- whose term of imprisonment exceeded 12 months was imposed; and
- who has not been pardoned by the Government of Canada for this offence;
- a person who is physically-challenged, such as being blind or deaf;
- a person who is mentally-challenged; or
- a person for whom jury duty would create undue hardship, such as:
- a mother nursing a child;
- a person suffering from a serious illness; or
- a person whose holiday plans include non-refundable travel.
Some people are exempt from jury duty. This means that they do not have to serve as jurors if they do not wish to. They still need to ask the sheriff to be excused from serving on a jury. These include:
- a clergy of any denomination;
- a firefighter;
- a doctor;
- a nurse;
- a dentist;
- a pharmacist;
- a postmaster;
- a member of the naval, army or air force armed forces of Canada;
- a person who works in a plant producing electricity or distributing water for public consumption; or
- a person who has served on a jury in the past 2 years.
A person over the age of 65 may be excused under section 6 of the Jury Act.
What to do if you need to be excused from jury duty?
- Put your request in writing on the juror certification form and where possible include supporting documents (for example, travel confirmation.)
- Make sure the sheriff receives it before you have to appear.
- The sheriff will then let you know whether or not you're excused. You may be asked to provide further information. This information is treated as confidential and destroyed following the trial.
If you have not heard from the sheriff by the selection date
- Appear at the jury selection time and place.
- Ask to speak to the judge.
- The judge will listen to your reasons and decide whether or not you're excused.
What happens when you show up for jury selection?
You are not allowed to smoke, chew gum, eat or drink while at the jury selection.
- You will be met by a sheriff’s officer at the door and directed into the room.
- The sheriff’s officer will call the roll and make sure everyone on the jury selection list is present.
- The judge will appear.
- The sheriff’s officer will report anyone from the list who is not there.
- The judge will explain the jury selection process and the specifics of the trial.
- You then have a chance to ask to be excused.
- If the judge agrees, you'll be excused.
- 12 names will be drawn and these people will be:
- either chosen as jurors; or
- challenged by the lawyers on both sides.
- The judge will excuse all the people not chosen as jurors.
- Please park your vehicle in accordance with City of Whitehorse Bylaws. The Sheriff's Office cannot forgive your parking tickets.
If you're chosen as a juror
The trial starts right away
You will be given enough time to make personal arrangements, such as letting your employer or family know about your jury duty.
The trial starts later
The judge will ask you to attend court at a specific date.
What if you need to leave the room during the jury selection process?
The selection process usually takes about 2 hours. Depending on specific circumstances of the trial, the process can take longer.
Usually, you have to stay in the room where the selection is taking place. If you need to make a special phone call or take a health break, talk to a sheriff’s officer. They will advise the judge of your absence if your name is called. The selection procedure will wait until you return.
If you have questions, phone 867-667-5451, or toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408 extension 5451; email firstname.lastname@example.org