THE LETTER THAT MOST PEOPLE DREAD
Jury Duty.. Not me… No way. Think again!
While we were out for a walk back a couple of days ago we stopped by the post box to get the mail. Mrs. CBB started to read out loud, “A letter from the Ministry of the Attorney General, I wonder what that could be”.
Honestly she was a bit spooked and thought something was wrong. She says you just don’t get a letter from the Attorney General for nothing, while ripping it open.
A Letter for Jury Duty? She seemed confused and I wasn’t much help as I know nothing about jury duty selection and Criminal Law in Canada.
Laws in Canada
Canadian Law and the Canadian Legal System is something I’m working on understanding although I’m not a Canadian Citizen yet just a permanent resident who’s been more focused on building credit in Canada rather than educating myself about laws in Canada.
Although not on my top 5 things I love about Canada jury duty is still something important everyone who lives in Canada should learn about.
I have not long landed in Canada from the UK but the amount I have to learn is huge.
It had me thinking about Canadian Law and what I should start learning about now that I live in this beautiful country.
I later learned sitting on a jury in Canada could potentially take its toll on your financial health if you are not prepared. Compensation while sitting as a juror is ridiculously low although it varies from province to province.
I’m sure that’s why so many people are trying to squirm their way out of being selected as a juror unless your province takes good care of you then you may jump in with both feet.
Head to Newfoundland and employers are required to pay you full wages and benefits while you sit as a juror. I’m betting the absenteeism rate is pretty low. If you live in Quebec they provide an allowance for childcare or the care of others under their responsibility as well as up to five one-hour psychological sessions at $65 per hour.
What is a juror?
Hopefully you aren’t scratching your head but just in case a juror is someone who sits in the courts and with the guidance of a judge determine questions of fact in a civil or criminal trial. That’s a big job and nothing to take lightly and something I question if I could put myself through. Would I have the option though, probably not.
You have to remember that jury duty is a part that Canadians play to make sure that justice is served by carrying out your role as a citizen. We can sit back and complain all we want but participation is crucial.
“A jury summons is not an invitation,” writes Ontario Superior Court Justice Casey Hill
Get me out of jury duty
How to get out of jury selection duty?
The only way out is if you don’t qualify or simply can’t take on the role but you need to follow the rules and prove it. It is an offence to just disregard the selection process or any forms you need to fill out and send back.
The form Mrs.CBB received stated she had 5 days to read, fill out and send back her signed and dated questionnaire. Now is not a time to be tossing your mail into a drawer and why reading it as soon as you get it is important.
Reading on, Mrs. CBB later understood that it wasn’t jury duty selection rather her name was selected from a municipal enumeration list (voter’s list) to be considered for inclusion on a Jury Roll.
She has a legal obligation now to fill out the Questionnaire and return it. She could at any time then receive a summons to attend for jury duty. A Jury Roll simply means names of Canadian Citizens in a certain jurisdiction that are eligible to serve as jurors if they are summoned to do so.
Now, being called for jury duty doesn’t mean you will be selected as a juror. If they don’t like you, they will boot you out, that’s just the way it goes.
Is there an age limit for jury duty? Yes in Canada you need to be 18 years of age and a Canadian Citizen.
Well I guess that removes me from the list for now as I’m a permanent resident (PR) from the UK but it’s good to know although there are many exemptions as mentioned above including health reasons, nursing, extreme hardships etc.
Depending on your profession in Canada or if you have been convicted of any criminal offences that can be prosecuted by way of an indictment for which you have not been granted a pardon you will be disqualified.
Jury selection criteria
- A Canadian Citizen
- Must be 18 yrs of age or older
- Must live in the province of the jurisdiction that served you
A sigh of relief came over me especially the more she researched the jury selection process with me. Do you know what you get paid for jury duty?
How many Canadians are actually prepared financially if they get called to jury?
This is another great reason that an emergency savings is crucial for everyone. Have you ever thought how your finances would hold up if you were serving as a juror on a case that took a year or more to deliberate and make a final judgement?
Employers and jury duty
Your employer must release you to attend jury duty and your service as an employee would continue as if you were there. They must not terminate or change conditions of employment without your written consent.
That means when you come back you will be in the same role you left or a comparable position.
Some employers may opt to pay you full or partial wages while you are on jury duty but they are not required to by law. If you are receiving EI you are entitled to continue receiving that money if you are selected as a juror.
Jury selection compensation
How much compensation will I get while I am serving as a Juror?
This is the million dollar question by anyone who potentially may become a juror. Sit back, you’re in for a bumpy ride in Ontario.
You will be responsible for paying for transportation and any parking fees unless you live 40 kms away from the courthouse. If you live in the city where you will sit as a juror you are expected to pay your own transportation or take a bus. You must keep all your receipts.
You will also have to bring your own lunch although they provide coffee and water to all jurors. Eat out and you can add $5-$20 every day to your monthly budget. You would only stay in a hotel if it is late and you are in the final stages of deliberations in a criminal trial.
You will only receive compensation once you are selected as a jury but not in the summons stage. Once selected, after 10 days of hearings have elapsed you will start to bank some cash but you get nil a big fat zero $$ before that.
Now, don’t spend that $40 all in one spot as you are now getting paid less than minimum wage for a full days work to fulfil your duty as a Canadian, so make sure you are prepared.
Did you think you would get more money than that? This is the experience of a lifetime so take the money and run, you may never get this opportunity again or at least for another 2 years.
If you are so fortunate to make it to day 50 you will then get a raise to a whopping $100 per day you are a juror although they say this is rare. One instance where a judge changed the compensation for a long drawn out case was in the Victoria Stafford Case where the judge offered $40 from the start and $100 after day 25. I couldn’t imagine the financial burden on those jurors but I’m betting the experience was an eye opener for them.
There are no other expenses that are paid for but they will do their best to accommodate anyone with disabilities. If you need to find childcare for your children it’s best you arrange it ahead of time and of course there is no allowance for this so you are paying for it out-of-pocket. This is just another reason for Canadians to buckle up and start budgeting and paying down debt.
For More information about jury duty selection where you live or questions contact the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Ignoring jury duty could get you a hefty fine or even jail time for contempt of court so prepare yourself and your finances for any unexpected expenses that might arise especially when you least expect it.
From what I’ve learned this past couple of days I’m still proud and honoured to live in Canada. Mrs. CBB has mailed back her questionnaire and now simply waits to see if they want to hear her 2 cents for potential Jury Duty.
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- Ontario Residents Ignoring Jury Duty (www.canoe.ca)
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- Western Pa. judge sets example by doing jury duty (news.yahoo.com)