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The Canadian Criminal Jury

45 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2011  

Neil Vidmar

Duke University - School of Law

Regina Schuller

York University - Department of Psychology

Date Written: April 1, 2011


The Canadian criminal jury system has some unique characteristics. In contrast to American law, that gives precedent to free speech over fair trial, and English law, that favors fair trial over free speech, Canadian law occupies a middle ground balancing these competing values .Jury selection procedure in most trials is similar to that of England: jurors are assumed to be “impartial between the Queen and the accused” and are selected without a voir dire. However, in cases involving exceptional pretrial publicity or involving accused persons from racial or ethnic minority groups, jurors are vetted by a “challenge for cause” process in which members of the jury pool itself, selected as “triers,” determine which prospective jurors are impartial. Another totally unique aspect of the Canadian system is that special rules apply to juries in Canada’s arctic regions. In addition to the official English and French languages, unilingual aboriginal persons who speak one of two Inuit dialects or one of seven Dene (Indian) dialects are eligible to serve on the jury. The purpose of this language provision is to provide for cultural perspective in jury verdicts and to increase community acceptance of Canadian law.

Keywords: juries, Canada, free speech, fair trial

Suggested Citation

Vidmar, Neil and Schuller, Regina, The Canadian Criminal Jury (April 1, 2011). Chicago-Kent Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Neil Vidmar (Contact Author)

Duke University - School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7090 (Phone)
919-613-7231 (Fax)

Regina Schuller

York University - Department of Psychology ( email )

(416) 736-2100 ext. 33190 (Phone)


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