Dozens of Calgarians were called for jury selection – immediately – during lunch at the Downtown Calgary Mall this week, calling for a rare process imported from England.
Alberta officials on Thursday issued 50 summons to people in the core shopping center, with documents requiring the recipient to immediately go to Calgary Court Center, which is just a few blocks away.
Donna Spanner, a prosecutor involved in jury selection in court, said that the court felt that the jury pool was not sufficient for the ensuing trial, due to a number of factors that had waived too many jurors, after which the unusual course of action was applied. was. Thursday. According to Spanner, those factors were summer vacation and the subject matter of the test.
This resulted in the Queen’s Bench issuing summons to fill that gap, she said.
“The court clerk and sheriff walked into the mall, and just started handing out these summons to members of the downtown lunch crowd that required them to attend the courthouse,” Spanner said.
I’m 20, and I haven’t seen this before.– Donna Spanner, Alberta Jury Selection Prosecutor
“I can tell you with certainty that many people who had discomfort on a Thursday afternoon weren’t particularly thrilled.”
She said Justice did a good job of keeping the afternoon “as efficient as possible” and recognizing the imposition on people.
“But looking at it from the point of view of someone who is involved in the system, it’s really remarkable that someone accused of a proselytizing crime … can have such an impact on a community,” she said.
“I’m 20, and I haven’t seen this before.”
The process implemented Thursday is called Telsman, and was imported into Canada from England, said Balfour Der, criminal law defense attorney and criminal law textbook author.
“They are the only people who have not been summoned. They are simply taken off the streets and brought in to be part of a potential pool of potential jurors who can be selected for a special jury.”
But those searching for soft pretzels or a new pair of shoes shouldn’t be afraid to head to the mall—Der says it’s rare that the potential jury for an upcoming trial has run out of supplies.
“It’s very rarely used. It’s very rare that you ever end up with a panel of potential jurors, but it can happen.”
Last used 26 years ago
A spokesman for Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandrow said the process was last implemented in 1996 in Calgary and in December 2020 in Edmonton.
The statement said, “Section 642(1) of the Criminal Code provides for presiding justice … people from adjoining places may be called to fill vacancies in the jury, when the jury panel is a full jury.” before the selection.
In this case, 80 potential jurors came to court for jury duty and there weren’t enough people to choose two jurors. The first jury was selected, but the second was six jurors, so additional people were needed – one to two hours of their day were taken, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that if those brought in on Thursday are selected to serve as jurors, they will have to return to court for trial.
“Trial by jury is a cornerstone of our criminal justice system. The right to a jury trial is enshrined in that the jury will be chosen at random, and fair and representative of the larger community. Jury management works hard to avoid the necessity of the Telsman process.” Trust me,” the spokesperson said.
“Unfortunately, and as noted above, potential jurors were exempted from the day of jury selection and up to that day, which ultimately resulted in its use.”