Dennis Oland murder trial jury selected
Judge commends court staff for quick process, thanks prospective jurors who weren't needed
The jury for Dennis Oland's second-degree murder trial has been selected — nine men and seven women.
The final four jurors were sworn in on Thursday morning at the Saint John Law Courts building.
Normally, juries only have 12 members, but 16 are required in this case — 14 jurors, plus two alternates — because the trial is expected to last 65 days, increasing the chances of someone getting sick or being unable to serve for other reasons.
Oland, 46, is accused of killing his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland, whose body was discovered in his uptown office on July 7, 2011.
The high-profile trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 16.
The jury selection process, which started on Tuesday at Harbour Station, was expected to extend into the weekend.
'Cornerstone' of democracy
But it moved along "much more quickly than any of us, quite frankly, thought possible," Justice John Walsh, of the Court of Queen's Bench, told the remaining prospective jurors who were in court on Thursday, before discharging them.
"Our greatest fear would have been to have to go out on the streets and conscript [additional prospective jurors] on very, very shot notice," while they were out getting a coffee or shopping, said Walsh.
"We needed to avoid that at all costs."
A total of 5,000 people in Saint John and Kings counties were sent summonses, making it one of the largest — if not the largest — jury pool in New Brunswick history.
About 4,000 were previously excused by the head sheriff for a variety of reasons, laid out in the provincial Jury Act.
The jury was selected from a pool of 1,131 people.
Without you, our system of justice would suffer greatly.- Justice John Walsh
The fact that the process went as smoothly as it did was a "testament" to the organizational efforts of the head sheriff and court staff, and the quality of the "top notch" prosecutors and defence lawyers involved, the judge said.
It's also a testament to the "strength and patience of people in this community," said Walsh, offering his "sincere thanks" to all of members of jury pool.
"Without you, our system of justice would suffer greatly," he said, describing the right to be tried by a jury of peers as a "cornerstone of our democracy."
600 excused overnight
Walsh ended up excusing about 600 people from potential jury duty overnight Wednesday.
He announced in court on Thursday morning that he made an "executive decision" to instruct the head sheriff to notify the prospective jurors they would not be required.
He said there was "no realistic prospect" the court wouldn't be able to choose the final four jurors still needed at that time to complete the jury panel from the three other groups of 142 people remaining.
"I didn't want these peoples' lives to be on hold any longer," Walsh explained to the prosecutors and defence team.
He asked the media to help spread the word.
There is a publication ban on any information that would identify the jury members.
There is also ban on the reasons why other people were excused by the judge or rejected by either the lawyers or the two so-called triers — citizens selected from the jury pool to assist with the process.
The jury pool of 1,131 people was divided on Tuesday at Harbour Station into eight groups, who were assigned days and times later in the week to appear in court for consideration.
They were also given a toll-free number to call before heading to court to ensure their assigned time hadn't changed and that the jury hadn't already been selected.