Serving on a jury comes with the enormous responsibility of deciding someone’s fate and it all starts with a Manitoba Health card.
A person accused in a criminal case in Court of Queen’s Bench has the choice for a judge alone or a jury trial. The jury is made up of 12 members. There are also options of a jury trial in civil cases. In that situation the jury has six members.
Jurors are selected from a list generated randomly through Manitoba Health cards.
At least 48 adults are summoned for selection. They are then randomly called up to stand in the jury box and see the accused. They face questions from Crown and defence lawyers. Depending on the answers, the lawyers can object to the person serving on the jury.
“Such a challenge may be employed if either the Crown or the defence thinks a person holds some views on the matters to be presented at the trial which might influence their decision on the guilt or innocence of the accused,” the Manitoba Courts website explained.
“When a challenge for cause is made, two jurors take an oath as triers and decide if the challenged person is acceptable or not acceptable to sit on the jury or be excused. If acceptable, the juror would then be subject to challenge by the Crown and the defence.”
The lawyers also have a limited number of challenges they can use without an explanation.
People can be excused from jury duty if they work in certain professions including elected officials, justice system employees, if they were recently convicted of a crime, or if they are unable to perform the duties because of mental or physical reasons.
A person can also be exempt if they are 75 years or older.
Once selected the juror’s employer must grant leave. It is at the employer’s discretion if the leave is with pay. The province will pay jurors $30 per day starting on day 11 of a trial.