Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy has ordered Sheriffs to find and bring before him 95 prospective jurors who did not show up for jury selection today. Speaking in court at the beginning of the trial of Patrick Carl Shea, Chief Kennedy thanked those who did show up adding he knows they are all inconvenienced. “It’s a duty to participate but not everybody apparently understands that.”
“The problem with this country, regularly,” he said, “is that Canadians don’t deserve it. We’ve had an example of that today. Ninety-five people today did not show up for jury duty ... 95 .... forty percent.”
He referred to two recent hearings at which two other Justices of the of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ordered absentee jurors to appear before them and imposed fines ranging from $50 to $200. “But apparently, $200 in this day and age doesn’t do it” said Chief Kennedy.
“There is a reason for juries, for jury trials.(The) opportunity to be tried by a jury of one’s peers is central to this democracy, to this country”, he said.
“Either we’re going to do away with jury trials or we’re going to do something about no-shows. And we are not going to do away with jury trials.”
He told the Sheriffs, “ .... when you contact them, ask them to bring their toothbrushes ...”
The Sheriffs’ department will now find and serve the prospective jurors who did not show up with a summons to appear before Chief Kennedy at a later date. At that hearing, they will be asked to explain why they did not show up today.
According to section 24-2-c of Nova Scotia’s Juries Act; “Every person who is summoned to attend and, without reasonable excuse, fails to obey the summons or fails to answer when called by the jury co-ordinator is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a penalty of not more than one thousand dollars.”