Quebec jury duty – absenteeism becoming a problem

Quebec jury duty – absenteeism becoming a problem

Quebec City (Quebec) 8 June 2015 – If or when one is called upon to serve as a juror for the numerous court cases that take place in Quebec’s courthouses, best he or she show up, because it is an obligatory duty which is punishable by prison time or heavy fines.

It does appear however that not showing up when called upon is becoming somewhat of a trend, and is causing certain problems in the justice system. In a recent court case where 150 jurors were named, 30 of them decided not to present themselves. The judge for the case asked the person in charge of jury selection, called a sheriff, to go out and find them and bring them to the courtroom ASAP.

Once sitting down the judge reprimanded the individuals who had tried to exonerate themselves and explained to them that they were getting off easy because legally he could have accused them of a contempt of court charge, which would imply a one night sleepover in a county jail.

Normally any citizen whose name appears on a voting list is eligible for jury duty and must show up if called upon to do so. There are some exceptions however.

People not required to serve on a jury are:
– Any person who works for the justice system.
– Any person who is a member of the privy council, house of commons, or a member of the National Assembly (Legislature).
– Any police officer or firefighter.
– Any practicing lawyer or notary.
– Any mentally challenged individual.
– Any person who does not speak English or French fluently.
– Any person that has a criminal record or is awaiting conviction.

It is Interesting to note, that you can only be called upon once every five years to serve on a jury panel. Certain individuals can ask to be exempt, which must be approved by the sheriff in charge. And BTW, if you fall asleep while on duty you will be immediately ousted from your seat and replaced by another juror, provided there is one available.

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