Today, we present an overview of the jury selection process in Canadian criminal cases when the accused has elected trial by Judge and jury.

Initial Process

On the first day of trial, a summons brings potential jurors, often reaching up to 200 or more individuals, to the court. A recent case example helps illustrate this procedure.

As of September 19th, 2019, Parliament enacted crucial changes to the jury selection process, specifically eliminating peremptory challenges.

The Selection Procedure

This is how the process unfolded in one of our lawyer’s recent jury trials.

  • Separate Rooms: Potential jurors convened in a separate room via video, while the accused, judge, and Crown remained in the main courtroom.
  • Judge’s Address: The judge directly addressed the jury panel, articulating the proceedings’ details. The objective was to select 12 jurors, achieved by bringing in individuals incrementally.
  • Individual Assessment: Groups of five individuals were brought into the courtroom. The judge assessed each person regarding potential hardships, be it financial, employment-related, or health-related. Individuals were encouraged to express concerns openly or submit a note if preferred.
  • Discussion and Selection: Those without issues became jurors. The process continued until 12 jurors were selected. The judge, Crown, and defence counsel engaged in discussions and made decisions on challenges based on presented reasons.

Changes in the Procedure

With the recent changes:

  • Criminal defence lawyers are no longer permitted to challenge jurors without cause unless specific circumstances, such as a familial connection between a juror and the accused, exist.
  • Exceptions include challenges for cause related to pretrial publicity or biases against an accused person of a particular ethnicity. Nevertheless, challenges that the accused or the Crown prosecutor could formerly make without stating a cause  (i.e., peremptory challenges) have been eliminated.


In summary, the jury selection process in Canada has evolved into a simplified and expedited procedure. While not as extensive as the complex U.S. process, it remains a vital Canadian right for the accused. If called for jury duty, individuals should recognize it as an opportunity to contribute to the justice system.

Additional Resources

For further insights into the Jury Trial Process and understanding how long trials typically take, explore our informative videos.

Video Transcription: I’d like to explain today a little bit about how jury selection happens in Canada. How that procedure happens and let’s pretend, assume that you have elected trial by Judge and jury. So what’s going to happen on your first day of trial there’s going to be, there might be other jury selections going on that day as well so maybe as many as 200 people are going to be summoned to court that day to be potential jurors and I’m going to give you an example of a recent case we did to show you how this procedure happens.Incidentally on September 19th, I believe it was 2019 very recently the Parliament changed the jury selection process. There is no longer what are called peremptory challenges and I handle that topic in a different video which I encourage you to watch.So here’s how it happens going forward and in a recent jury trial we did. So those 200 people for example they will be in a totally separate room by video in the same court house and the accused and Judge and Crown will be in the main court house. In this particular case and it may be slightly different procedure in different cities but these are the basics. The Judge addressed that panel of 200 people and kind of explained to them what was going on and said look a few of you are going to be brought in at a time until we select 12 jurors. Once you go in you can explain to me in open court whether you have financial hardship, employment issues, or health issues. These types of hardship issues which would prevent you from sitting on a jury. If it’s embarrassing to you to say that in open court you can write me a note. Just say for example the person was a victim of crime and didn’t think they’d be impartial and write a note to that effect.So in this particular case they brought in five people at a time and one of them would come forward at a time and the Judge would ask them look is there any reason you can’t sit on the jury and some of the people would give reasons and there would be a discussion with the Crown, defence counsel and the Crown as to whether they should sit on the jury or whether there is true problems for them sitting on it because of health reasons, hearing, what not and if they were acceptable, they had no reasons they became juror number one effectively and this process just continued until you’ve selected twelve jurors. It’s a very quick process. It’s a matter of the Judge asking a few questions about hardship. If there’s no hardship and the person can sit on the jury then the defence counsel is not allowed to challenge them. Neither is the Crown.There are some exceptions of course, you know for example let’s say a particular jury member was an accused brother that the Crown knew and there was some new Crown well the Crown would be able to challenge them. There’s also challenges which have to be brought in advance by application like for pretrial publicity. Let’s say there has been extensive publicity in your case which is biasing jury members then you might be able to question some of the jurors or let’s say there is an indigenous accused or black accused you are allowed to ask each jury member, each potential member whether they are biased against a person, a black person or indigenous and the Judge would try that issue and say no that person is biased or they are acceptable but the bottom line these challenges we used to have where the accused could simply say challenge for a number of reasons is gone. That’s gone and I cover that in another video. So it’s a very simplified procedure now. It happens very quickly. It’s not like the U.S. where they have an extensive list called the voir dire and all sorts of questions. We don’t have that in Canada unless it’s pretrial publicity or a black accused or indigenous accused and again very simple questions. It’s very short. It takes a short amount of time. So that’s it in a nutshell and if you’re called for jury duty it can be an interesting experience. Most of you probably don’t want to sit at a jury but I encourage you it’s an important Canadian right for an accused and it’s sometimes interesting for people to sit on juries as well.
By Published On: July 31, 2023Last Updated: March 19, 2024Categories: Criminal Harassment, Video

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