Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jury vetting leads to retrial

 R. v. Spiers, 2012 ONCA 798 holds improper Crown jury vetting led to an apparent miscarriage of justice. As a result a retrial of a murder charge was ordered. The Court writes:

[89]       When all the factors are weighed and viewed cumulatively, I conclude that the well-informed and reasonable person would perceive the jury selection process in this case to be unfair. The improprieties have resulted in a significant mismatch in the amount of information relevant to jury formation, with the Crown having much more information available to it than was available to the appellant. This mismatch came about in large measure because of breaches by the Crown of its own policies, misuse of police databases and, as explained, breaches of privacy legislation. Finally, the appellant has established that both the improprieties and the failure to disclose have resulted in the appellant being tried by a jury differently constituted than if the breaches had not occurred.

[90]       In my view, the major purpose of peremptory challenges, "to foster confidence in the jury trial process": Gayle, at para. 59, was undermined to such a degree as to create the appearance of unfairness. The extent of the imbalance created and the significance of the improprieties have so tainted the appearance of a fair process as to amount to a miscarriage of justice and lead reasonable people to believe that the appearance of justice has been undermined.

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