Jury duty: tracking no-shows and compensation across Canada
Not all provinces collect data on who is, and isn't, responding to the call of jury duty
When a Nova Scotia judge recently decried a "flabby, sad generation" for failing to appear for jury duty, he likely struck a chord in courtrooms across Canada.
Most provinces and territories that track absenteeism among prospective jurors (and few of them do) report that about one-fifth of citizens don’t show up when summoned. Compensation ranges from a mere $20 to about $100 per day.
Here's a quick look at jury statistics across Canada.
Recent figures on juror absenteeism weren't immediately available. If a prospective juror fails to show up for their jury selection summons, the court can issue a second summons that the person must pick up at the courthouse. Ultimately, an arrest warrant can be issued for repeated failure, but the Solicitor General's office says no fines have been issued for juror absenteeism.
Once selected as a juror, compensation is $50 per day.
An estimated 20 per cent of jurors don't show up for jury selection, according to the province's justice department. Those who fail to show can be fined and the judge determines the amount, but the province has no statistics on how many have been fined.
Compensation is $20 a day for the first 10 days of a trial, $60 a day from 11th to 49th day, and $100 for 50th day until the end. A sitting juror is also entitled to up to $50 per day for child care costs if the cost was incurred solely because of the trial.
The province doesn't have statistics on absenteeism, but it issued 10 warrants in 2012-2013 for people failing to appear, out of 11,400 prospective jurors. The province has no set penalties for those who fail to appear, it's up to the judge — but Manitoba Justice says it is not aware of anyone having been fined.
Jurors are paid $30 a day, starting on 11th day of sitting on a jury, and employers are required to grant them a leave of absence.
The provincial justice department did not respond to CBC's request for information.
Less than one per cent, or 24 absentees out of 2,908 summons (2012/2013), are no-shows. They can be fined up to a max of $1,000 and/or up to six months in prison. Of the 24 no-shows, 10 were fined $50, others were found not guilty or excused because explanations were accepted.
There is no provincial compensation for jury duty, but employers are required to continue paying employees and can be fined $1,000 or imprisoned for three months for failing to do so.
The average for non-attendance is 20 per cent. The maximum fine is $1,000 and in the past four months, at least five people fined for not attending.
Compensation for sitting jurors is $40 a day.
The territory recorded a 19.5 per cent absenteeism rate among those issues a summons from July to December 2012, or 350 out of 1,794. The rate ranged from 32.8 per cent in Behchoko, NT, to 6.8 per cent in Ulukhaktok, NT. Failure to attend a jury selection can result in a fine of $25 to $200, and people can also be jailed.
Jurors receive $80 per day of service.
The territory did not immediately respond to CBC's request for information.
No province-wide stats were available on juror attendance. A person can be held in contempt of court if, without reasonable excuse, they do not attend when summonsed. There's no set penalty for failing to show up. The ministry said it has no record of no-shows being fined by a judge in the past five years.
Sitting jurors aren't compensated for the first 10 days of a trial. From day 11 to 49, it’s $40 a day. After day 50, it’s $100 a day.
Jury trials are rare, and no-shows among potential jurors are estimated at less than one per cent of the 80 to 120 citizens paneled each year. In such instances the sheriff is instructed by the judge or justice to contact, or in some cases pick-up, the absent potential juror and have them appear before the judge. There's no set punishment for non-attendance.
Those selected to serve on a jury receive $40.
The province's justice department could not provide province-wide numbers. A spokesperson said Montreal has an absenteeism rate of 20 to 25 per cent among prospective jurors.
Sitting jurors receive $103 per day.
The province does not track absenteeism, but expects a no-response rate to summons of about 30 per cent, so it sends out extras. People can be fined up to $1,000 for failing to respond to a summons, but the justice ministry said it does not believe a fine has ever been imposed.
For civil trials, prospective jurors get $15 a day during jury selection and $25 a day as sitting juror. For criminal trials, sitting jurors receive $80 a day if they aren’t paid by their employer, but nothing during jury selection.
Its juror absentee rate is about 21 per cent, based on figures from March 2012 to May 2013 that show 224 out of 1,274 potential jurors did not attend. Fines range from $25 to $200.
Compensation for jurors is $80 a day.