New Study – More Assistance Needed For Jurors – Before, During And After The Trial

Fraser Valley – Have you ever had the experience of Jury duty?

For many, it’s tedious, boring, long hours and doesn’t pay well at all.

For others, it can be an emotional wrecking ball. Testimony that could break your heart, make you seethe with anger or disgust you with stomach churning details.

A former juror who suffered serious emotional trauma after serving on a jury, had requested a policy change which has led to a comprehensive study and report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Anthony Housefather was the chair of this House of Commons study.

Many critics say that this has been a long time coming in the judicial system.

The Improving Support for Jurors in Canada report contains 11 recommendations to mitigate juror stress and to ensure that former jurors have access to psychological support services after their duty has ended.

That includes psychological support and counseling program to all jurors after their jury service has ended and amending the secrecy rule provision of the Criminal Code to allow former jurors to discuss jury deliberations with mental health professionals.

Currently it is illegal to talk about what you witnessed in court, unlike the American system where you can instantly go to media and explain why you voted Guilty/Not Guilty on any trial.

Other recommendations call for an increase in the daily allowance to at least $120 for the jurors’ service for the duration of the legal proceedings. Baby sitting and work/job loss is a major complaint for jurors on long trials.

Vancouver Criminal Lawyer Kyla Lee told FVN: “They all seem like really important recommendations. The compensation to juries has been pitifully poor for years, with no regard for the additional costs being in a jury can have. Additionally the availability of mental health resources and support is so important. We have historically treated juries as somewhat robotic, assuming they can cope with the most gruesome and graphic cases. This has done a disservice to our justice system.

I also think the recommendation about intimidation is really good. Having a “room of their own” and safe space to move about the courthouse isn’t just good for the mental of jurors but also for the public perception of the integrity of our justice system.”

 

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