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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The selection of juries for criminal trials in Canada Trainor, Niall A.

Abstract

As part of the jury selection process lawyers in Canada are permitted to exclude a significant number of persons from serving on juries. In this thesis it is argued that the norms of the legal system obligate lawyers to choose jurors who would favour their clients' interests. Thus, defence counsel should select those jurors who seem to favour the accused' interest in personal freedom, and Crown, counsel those who seem to favour the state's interest in law and order. Further, it is argued that attributions of juror bias are based on stereotypes, social status, and similarity to the accused. While by no means conclusive, the results of this research provide some support for these contentions. Crown counsel appear to use stereotypes dealing with occupations and wealth in order to select jurors with more conservative tendencies. Defence counsel, on the other hand, seemed to choose more liberal-minded jurors using stereotypes about occupations, wealth, and prior jury experience. Also, defence counsel seemed to prefer low status prospective jurors on the assumption that they would favour the accused. Finally, defence counsel appeared to prefer jurors who are similar to the accused, believing them to be biased in his or her favour. In light of these findings it is argued that the functions that are attributed to the jury need reconsideration. Also, the wisdom of restricting lawyers' access to information about prospective jurors is called into question.

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