Jury InformationCourt of Queen's Bench | Saskatchewan
Courts of Saskatchewan
Court of Queen’s Bench
Jury trials will be held offsite until further notice. For information on the location of an upcoming jury trial, please contact the local registrar.
A jury is a group of impartial people who listen to the evidence in a court case and render a verdict. In Saskatchewan, jury trials are only held at Court of Queen’s Bench.
In a criminal trial, 12 jurors hear the evidence and decide if the accused person is guilty or not guilty. Before the jury makes their decision, the judge explains the law that they must consider when deciding the verdict. If there is a guilty verdict, the judge will decide what the sentence should be. Criminal jury trials are only held for indictable offences (more serious offences).
In a civil trial, six jurors hear the evidence and determine the issues involved. In civil cases, jury trials are held when one of the parties requests and pays for a jury.
Jurors are paid $110 for each day or part of a day that they sit unless they are receiving income from their employer while sitting. Parking, mileage, meals, and dependent care may also be eligible for reimbursement, if necessary.
The Jury Selection Process
First Step: The Summons
When the court needs to assemble a jury, the Ministry of Justice asks the Ministry of Health to provide the required number of names. The names are selected randomly, by computer, from health records. Anyone who is over 18 years of age with a health services number and who lives within that judicial district may be called for jury service. The name and address of the potential juror is the only information provided to the Sheriff.
A document called a “summons” is prepared for each potential juror. It tells the person when to attend court and contains information about the selection process. Once the summons is received, it must be completed and returned within 5 days of receiving it. Failure to return this information and failure to attend court can result in a serious fine.
Second Step: The Judge and Lawyers
People who receive a summons in the mail must attend court for a process called jury selection.
The selection of the jury takes place before the start of the trial. The presiding judge describes the nature of the case to be tried and then makes certain inquires of the jury panel to determine if they are able to act as impartial judges of the facts. The names of the prospective jurors are written on cards that are placed in a box. The court clerk draws the cards from the box and those prospective jurors are asked to come forward.
The lawyers for the parties at trial have the right to challenge prospective jurors without giving any reasons. If this occurs, that person is then asked to return to the body of the courtroom. If the prospective juror is not challenged, he or she is then sworn as a juror. This process continues until all the jurors are chosen. Those members of the jury panel who are not selected are excused from further attendance. Those who are selected will serve as judges of the facts at the trial.
Eligibility for Jury Service
Any Saskatchewan resident who is over the age of 18 and is a Canadian citizen may serve as a juror. Health records are considered to be the best database available in this province. Every person in Saskatchewan has a health services number that has been randomly assigned by a computer. This ensures that everyone is given an equal chance at being called for jury service.
However, some people are excluded from being jurors because of the work they do or their legal status. This includes:
- a current member of the Privy Council, the Senate or the House of Commons;
- a current member or officer of the Legislative Assembly;
- a current or former judge, lawyer (whether in practice or not), police officer or justice of the peace;
- a current employee of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice, the Department of Justice (Canada) or the Department of the Solicitor General (Canada) or are currently otherwise engaged in the administration of justice, e.g. they are employed by the Ministry of Corrections and Policing; work in Integrated Justice Services, or are an Aboriginal Courtworker
- a spouse of any of the above persons;
- a current chief or council member of an Indian band;
- a current reeve, councilor or mayor;
- a current member of a board of education, the Conseil scolaire Fransaskois, a board of trustee of a school district or conseil d’ecole;
- a current or former coroner;
- armed forces personnel of the regular or special forces or a member of the reserve forces on active service;
- persons legally confined in an institution;
- persons who have been convicted of an offence for which they were sentenced to a prison term of 2 years or more and for which no pardon or record suspension is in effect;
- persons with respect to whom a certificate of incapacity has been issued; or
- persons who are unable to understand the language in which the trial is to be conducted.
As well, people may be excused for one of the following reasons:
- The person’s attendance would result in serious hardship or loss to that person, to others or to the general public;
- The person is suffering from a mental or physical illness that is likely to persist and to render the person incapable of serving as a juror at the sitting of the court;
- The person is a practicing member of a religion or religious order whose beliefs are incompatible with service as a juror;
- The person is 65 years or older;
- The person has served as a juror in the preceding two years; or
- The person is incapable of serving as a juror.
If the person fits into one of these categories, they can be relieved from serving as a juror by returning the completed Application for Relief to the Sheriff.
Juror Assistance and Support Program
The Government of Saskatchewan has implemented a program to provide confidential and professional counselling to jurors who have experienced personal difficulties as a consequence of serving as a juror.