For criminal jury trials, it is up to the Crown and the defence to decide who will be selected to be on the jury panel from those summoned.
First, 15-20 potential jurors are drawn from the list of those summoned. Their jury ID number will be called, to which they should respond “here”. At this time, either the Crown or the defence will agree on selecting the potential juror called, or they will challenge the participation of that juror. Challenging a juror’s participation on a jury panel is a normal occurrence, and potential jurors should not take offence to this. Depending on the offence, there will be certain questions that may be asked to the potential juror, and their answers will decide whether both the Crown and the defence chose or reject certain jurors.
You are selected as a juror when you swear or affirm that you will try the accused based on only the evidence heard in court. Once the entire jury is selected, the jury will be excused and told to return for the trial date.
Although a jury panel is made up of 12 jurors, it is likely that a few extra jurors will be selected as alternate jurors. You will not know whether you are an alternate juror or not until the end of the trial. Extra jurors ensure that there is still the required number of jurors for the trial if a juror must be excused for personal reasons or other reasons. At the end of the trial, the juror’s numbers will be drawn from a box, and a juror will be called and discharged as a juror until the panel reaches 12 jurors.
If a replacement juror is required before the jury has begun hearing evidence, an additional juror can be called from the original panel or elsewhere.
If You are not Selected
If you are not selected as a juror, you will be dismissed. It is possible that you will be asked to return for an additional jury selection date, but the judge will let you know before you leave. Sometimes you can be contacted at a later date for an additional jury selection without the judge letting you know at the initial jury selection, but this rarely occurs.
Can I be Excused After I Have Been Selected?
In criminal trials, jurors can be excused from serving on the jury before the trial for several reasons. Reasons include:
- A personal interest in the matter at trial
- A relationship with the judge holding the jury selection process or the judge that is presiding over the trial, the prosecutor, the accused, counsel for the accused, or a witness in the trial
- For personal hardship or any other reasonable cause
A judge can also direct a juror to stand by for personal reasons of personal hardship, to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice, or other reasonable causes.