Death of Picking an Impartial Jury

Death of Picking an Impartial Jury

On behalf of Neuberger & Partners LLP posted in Criminal Defence on Thursday October 10, 2019.

Restoring the Trial Process After COVID-19

Joseph Neuberger, Neuberger & Partners LLP

Criminal Defence Lawyers

As an adjunct to a previous short piece I penned on Bill C-75, I believe it is important to
note another significant blow to our rights in Canada. Among many changes brought in
under Bill C-75, the Liberal government also struck a direct blow to the right on an
accused person to pick an impartial jury in a criminal trial. In direct response to the
murder trial in Saskatchewan, then Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould’s out right
condemnation of the jury’s verdict resulted in the obliteration of a long-standing
protection to ensure a fair and impartial jury.
The issue in the high-profile trial was that the defence lawyer used appropriately 12
peremptory challenges to exclude potential jurors in order to obtain a fair and impartial
jury. The then Justice Minister and the Prime Minister were outraged that a lawyer
could do such a thing and that no person of indigenous background was on the jury
panel as the victim of the charge was indigenous. There is nothing wrong with wanting
to promote diversity on jury panels, but what the government did in response to a single
trial verdict was to wipe out all peremptory challenges so that neither the Crown or
defence have any individual option to exclude a potential juror based on her or his trial
experience without a challenge for cause.
Peremptory challenges allow litigants to secure a fair and impartial jury and provides the
litigants with some control over the jury selection process. It allows a defence lawyer to
search for biases during the selection process without fear of alienating a potential juror.
Finally, the peremptory challenge serves as an aid when a challenge for cause is
denied or not available.
These challenges have a long-standing history in English and American law and have
served a vital role in protecting accused persons those of identifiable racial
backgrounds, from bias based on race and ethnicity. The new regime is confusing, and
Courts are not clear on how a jury selection process can proceed. The elimination of
peremptory challenges can result in the first 12 persons called being selected as the
jury and there is no guarantee that this will be a representative group of our community
and certainly will not help root out biases or issues that may cause a potential juror from
being able to impartially decide a criminal trial. It certainly will NOT forward the
professed issue raised by the government to ensure a representative panel. But it will
serve to again erode our enshrined rights to a trial before a jury of our peers and will

further erode carefully protected rights that have been in place historically to root out

Again, this government has sent a clear message that trials are to further high
conviction rates and not further the truth-seeking principle of criminal trials.

Share on:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



1392 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto, ON M6C 2E4
Fax (416) 364-3271


On behalf of Neuberger & Partners LLP posted in COVID-19 on Tuesday March 17, 2020.

At Neuberger and Partners, we are monitoring the COVID-19 situation and have implemented safety measures to ensure the safety of our clients and staff. Our priority is and always will be the health, well-being and safety of our staff, clients and colleagues.

We have put in place various measures to prevent and minimize the impact of COVID-19:

  • In addition to standard hand-washing habits, our staff are washing hands before and after every client interaction;
  • All individuals entering our office will be required to use our hand sanitizer to ensure the safety of our other clients and staff;
  • Regular disinfecting of our offices, public areas, meeting rooms and board rooms as well as increasing the frequency of disinfection of higher-traffic surface areas;
  • If a lawyer or client who has a scheduled meeting is feeling unwell, they will be strongly encouraged to stay home;
  • For the time being, we will avoid greeting clients and colleagues with our usual handshakes;
  • We will make every effort to ensure our firm will be stocked up with extra tissue and alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and
  • We will monitor and stay informed from the Government of Canada and World Health Organization for facts as they become available. We will ensure all staff and team members are educated on symptoms and are well informed on prevention and best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will the firm still run if there are closures?

  • We are committed to assisting our clients. We remain open to assist our clients at this time (following aforementioned standards for health and safety). For clients who wish to communicate with our firm virtually, we have the technology for virtual meetings and are able to respond to the needs of our clients in a manner best to protect our staff and clients’ health.

Are staff and lawyers set up to work virtually?

  • All lawyers and staff are set up to work virtually and continue to assist clients and one another remotely. All lawyers are available via telephone, email and virtual video conferencing.

What is the court situation? How will we deal with court closures?

  • At this time, the Superior Court of Justice is closed from March 17, 2020 to June 1, 2020 – unless a judge orders otherwise.
    If you have a March matter, your matter will be postponed to June 2, 2020.
    April matters will be postponed to June 3, 2020 and May matters will be pushed to June 4, 2020.
  • Similarly, the Ontario Court of Justice will be closed for 10 weeks for all out of custody matters in criminal practice court. In custody matters will still be addressed. It is unclear if out of custody matters such as trials or preliminary hearings will continue since the courts have left this decision to the discretion of the judges. However, Bail courts will remain open for the time being.
  • The Court of Appeal for Ontario has suspended all scheduled appeals until April 3, 2020. But we are still able to file materials and apply for urgent appeals to be heard.
  • We will advise clients by email of their next Court date.

How can payments be made?

  • Payments can be made via e-transfer and visa payments can be made over the phone.

If I have to deliver something to my lawyer, how shall I go about it?

  • For clients who wish to drop off documents but do not wish to come in contact with any one at the firm, you are encouraged to drop them off in our mail slot in front of our office.

We will be open and available for any questions, comments or concerns. Please call (416) 364-3111 for any further information.

Stay safe and healthy,

Joseph Neuberger