Mock-Jurors’ Self-Reported Understanding of Canadian Judicial Instructions (Is Not Very Good)

32 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2019

See all articles by Michelle Bertrand

Michelle Bertrand

University of Winnipeg

Richard Jochelson

Robson Hall, University of Manitoba Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 25, 2019

Abstract

Studies of the criminal jury within a Canadian context remain few and far between compared to such research based in other jurisdictions especially the United States. The study of jury work in Canada is significantly curtailed for structural reasons, which we outline below. This makes the study of actual jurors who have served almost impossible in Canada so researchers must use alternative methods to study Canadian juridical issues.

The current study used a student sample to investigate comprehension of Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) pattern instructions. This is the first study to interrogate CJC pattern instructions in relatively common and uncomplicated crimes.

In this article, we discuss the barriers to jury research in Canada, consider some challenges facing jurors in comprehending legal concepts, and explore the development of pattern instructions in Canada. We then describe the results of our study, which revealed that a majority of participants self-reported a lack of comprehension in the pattern instructions provided and demonstrated a lack of understanding of foundational legal principles based on responses to other questions. This lack of comprehension has implications for policy development and for future studies in the area of juror comprehension.

Keywords: juries, criminal law, fair trials, juror comprehension, judicial instructions

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Michelle and Jochelson, Richard, Mock-Jurors’ Self-Reported Understanding of Canadian Judicial Instructions (Is Not Very Good) (July 25, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3426796 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3426796

Michelle Bertrand

University of Winnipeg ( email )

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9
United States

Richard Jochelson (Contact Author)

Robson Hall, University of Manitoba Faculty of Law ( email )

Winnipeg R3T 5V4, Manitoba
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.robsoncrim.com

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