Just one week after an emotional outburst in the triple-murder trial of Derek Saretzky in Lethbridge, there are calls to change federal legislation.
Fourteen jurors heard the case, but under Canadian law, only 12 were allowed to deliberate.
That prompted one of the two jurors dismissed to stop at the judge’s bench and express her frustration.
“How wrong this is to subject people to this…and not let them have a final say,” she said.
The trauma the excluded juror suffered has prompted one of Canada’s leading forensic psychologists to suggest an amendment to the Criminal Code.
Dr. Patrick Baillie has sent a letter to the federal justice minister.
“I saw it as an opportunity to say, let’s look at that subsection that says only 12 jurors can sit,” Baillie told Global News.
The code currently states:
“If there are more than 12 jurors remaining, the judge shall identify the 12 jurors who are to retire to consider the verdict by having the number of each juror written on a card that is of equal size, by causing the cards to be placed together in a box that is to be thoroughly shaken together and by drawing one card if 13 jurors remain or two cards if 14 jurors remain. The judge shall then discharge any juror whose number is drawn.”
Baillie suggests the precedent to have 12 people hasn’t yet been set, so there should be room to make changes.
“There are exceptions down to having as few as 10 people. So if there isn’t a magic number about 12, why not be respectful to all of those people who have made their way through the entire trial process and allow them to deliberate together?”
The 12 remaining jurors found Saretzky, 24, guilty of all charges.
Watch below from June 28: Derek Saretzky guilty of killing Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, father and senior. Nancy Hixt reports.
Baillie is also pushing for a nationwide standard for juror support.
“Over the last few months, I’ve heard from several jurors that they just don’t feel as though they were adequately supported.”
He said some cited the number of sessions was insufficient, the counsellor didn’t understand the process, or their symptoms didn’t develop until much later and they were no longer covered for counselling.
“My bottom line is we’re simply not doing enough to support the mental health of those individuals who step forward and take on the responsibilities of serving on juries.”