Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 10:14 AM EST
CALGARY – Legal experts say that they propose changes to the Criminal Code after a high profile resolution on the deadly feature of a short-term indigenous.
The key changes in a federal bill, which has passed to the third reading, imply peremptory challenges during the selection of the jury and the use of preliminary consultations. The peremptory challenges allow lawyers to eliminate a potential jury without giving reasons.
Calgary lawyer, Balfour Der, who has worked as a prosecutor as a defense lawyer for 38 years, said that the proposed changes are a knee reaction in part to the acquittal of a white jury of a Saskatchewan farmer on the death of a 22-year-old man, Cree.
"It's a government reaction to meet an interest group that could have been complaining after that," he said in a recent interview.
"I can not imagine anything less useful in the selection of the jury by both parties than not having peremptory challenges. Not only do you seek a jury from your colleagues, but you are looking for an impartial jury."
Potential potential indigenous jury members were released during the selection of the jury for the trial of Gerald Stanley. The farmer said he accidentally shot Colten Boushie in the back of the head when a group of indigenous youth moved to the Stanley farm near Biggar, Sask., Aug. 2016 He was not considered guilty of second degree murder in February.
The verdict caused a reaction throughout the country. Boushie's family, academics and politicians said that acquittal emphasized systemic racism in the justice system and called for changes, specifically for the selection of the jury.
The Federal Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, accepted. He said that eliminating the challenges will ensure that juries are more representative of the Canadian population.
"Our criminal justice system must be fair, equitable and just for all Canadians," said Wilson-Raybould at that time.
Lawyers would still have the right to challenge a possible jury for cause, but the lawyer's authority to the judge to decide.
Der, the author of a textbook on the jury's law, said that prohibiting peremptory challenges would mean that you could "get caught up with the first 12 people who say they are prepared, prepared and can be sworn.
"I do not know how this will get more people from First Nations in the jury."
Lisa Silver, a law professor at the University of Calgary, who appeared before the parliamentary committee that examined the bill, said that the verdict of Stanley was the result of several factors.
"Eliminating peremptory challenges is not the complete answer," said Silver. "Some advocates suggest that they have used challenges peremptorily when they have had an indigenous client and have been to their advantage."
Defense lawyer Silver, Der and Calgary, Alain Hepner, said that a better solution would be to change the way in which a group of prospective jury is selected. This list currently includes voter registration, drivers licenses or ID renewals.
"Aboriginal names are easy to find," said Hepner. "These names are obvious, so we make the members of the jury who are their peers".
The proposed legislation will also restrict preliminary consultations only to crimes that carry the life imprisonment. The queries are audiences to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.
This change is derived from a decision of the Supreme Court of 2016 which limits the time it can lead to criminal proceedings before considering it unreasonably delayed. The Jordan decree says that provincial trials should be tried within 18 months and those of higher courts should be heard within 30 months.
Silver said preliminary hearings allow lawyers to weigh a case's strength and may lead to early culprits.
"The prelate was the legislative backboard against the power of the state," said Silver
Audiences do not take long, says Der.
"Preliminary inquiries do not cause delays, if necessary, can accelerate the actual test because both parties see the witnesses, listen to the witnesses, know what a problem, what's not a problem."