Serving on a jury is one of the most direct ways that a person can take part in the justice system. It is an important civic responsibility that all Canadian citizens 18 years of age or older must take seriously. In Nova Scotia, the Juries Act outlines the requirements and processes involved with jury duty. Below are some resources to help you prepare, should you receive a jury summons.
Some reasons you may be excused or deferred from jury duty include:
- Medical reasons
- Financial hardship
- Travel plans
A jury is responsible for hearing the evidence in a trial and then rendering a verdict. The presiding judge will provide the jury with instructions on how to apply the law when considering the evidence. A jury consists of twelve people in a criminal trial and seven people in a civil trial. Only the Supreme Court conducts jury trials.
In Nova Scotia, you can be a juror if you are a Canadian citizen and 18 years of age or older. You cannot serve on a jury if:
- you have been convicted of a crime and have been sentenced to two or more years in prison;
- you have attended or are attending a law school;
- you work in the administration of justice (for example, a police officer or an employee of the provincial or federal Department of Justice);
- you are a Member of the House of Commons, the Senate, the provincial House of Assembly or the Lieutenant Governor; or
- you are an officer or non-commissioned member of the reserve Armed Forces on active service or an officer or non-commissioned member of the regular Armed Forces or special Armed Forces.
Your name was selected from the provincial Health Registration List. Every year, tens of thousands of names and addresses are randomly selected by a computer program and submitted to the Nova Scotia Department of Justice. Only your name and address are provided — no other personal information is shared with the Courts.
If you receive a summons to appear for jury selection, it does not necessarily mean you will sit on a jury. It does mean that, by law, you must report for jury duty and take part in the selection process, unless you are excused by the Jury Coordinator or the presiding Judge. During the selection process in Court, it will be up to the lawyers involved in the case to either accept or challenge you as a juror.
Keep the top portion of the Jury Summons and the “Important Notice” in a safe place. Bring the top portion of the Jury Summons with you on the morning of jury selection.
Be sure to read everything in the package carefully. It is important that you understand what you need to do and when. Fill out the bottom portion of the “Juror Information Form”, detach and return the bottom portion only to the Jury Coordinator.
Finally, make a note of the date and time that you have to attend Court. Call the Jury Information Line on the date indicated. This will tell you whether the jury selection is going ahead and other important updates regarding the process. It is important that you do this before you travel to Court.
Serving on a jury is an important civic responsibility that must be taken seriously by all Canadian citizens 18 years of age or older. Jury duty is governed by the JURIES ACT OF NOVA SCOTIA. As per that Act, if you receive a Jury Summons and do not fill out and send back the Juror Information Form, or if you do not show up for jury selection without being excused, you could be arrested and/or fined up to $1,000.
Yes. You are entitled to unpaid leave to attend for jury duty. Some employers pay their employees regular wages while attending court for jury duty, so you should check with your employer.
Yes, in certain circumstances you can be excused or deferred from serving on a jury. Some viable reasons include medical issues, illness, financial hardship or travel plans. If you are a doctor, dentist or a member of the clergy, you are not automatically exempt from jury duty, but you may apply to be excused.
The Jury Coordinator also has the authority to excuse people without them having to appear. The Jury Coordinator can also defer someone to the next jury selection date if it is determined there is a scheduling conflict, such as a planned vacation. Prospective jurors looking to be excused or deferred prior to the jury selection date on their summons should submit an APPLICATION TO BE EXCUSED/DEFERRED FROM JURY DUTY.
If the Jury Coordinator does not excuse or defer someone as requested, then the Judge presiding over the trial may also excuse a prospective juror during the jury selection process, if they feel the juror would suffer undue hardship by serving.
If you are selected to sit on a jury, you will be paid $40.00 per day and 20 cents per kilometer from your home to the courthouse and back for each day that you sit on a jury. Your parking costs will also be reimbursed. If you are not selected to sit on a jury, but you traveled more than 100 kilometers from your home to the courthouse in response to a jury summons, you will be paid 20 cents per kilometer from your home to the courthouse and back.
Be sure to read all the information in your jury duty package and call the Jury Information Line on the date indicated. This will tell you whether the jury selection is going ahead and other important updates regarding the process.
On the day of jury selection, you may have to wait to get inside the courthouse or to go through security. Dress appropriately for the weather and remember to bring the top portion of your jury summons and photo ID.
Once you are checked in, it may be some time before your juror number is called. Be prepared for a long wait — consider bringing reading materials or something else to pass the time, as well as water and snacks.
Attending court for jury duty will not affect your EI benefits.
If you have read all the available information on this page and still have questions about the process, please call the Jury Information Line on your Jury Summons or contact the Jury Coordinator at the courthouse nearest you.