Jury Duty

What you need to know if you've been summoned for Jury Duty in Nova Scotia:

  • serving on a jury is an important responsibility
  • being a juror is one of the most direct ways that you can take part in the justice system

Below are some frequently asked questions about being summoned for jury duty:

  1. What is a jury?
  2. Who can be a juror?
  3. Why was I picked?
  4. I've received the Jury Summons — now what do I do?
  5. Do I have to serve?
  6. What happens if I do not fill out the forms and return them or if I do not show up for jury duty without being excused?
  7. I don't know anything about law or about sitting on a jury!
  8. Does my employer have to give me time off to appear for jury duty?
  9. What are "jury fees"?
  10. I am receiving Employment Insurance benefits. How will attending for jury duty affect my benefits?
  11. I still have questions — who can I ask for more information?

 


1. What is a jury?

There are juries chosen for both civil disputes and criminal cases. A jury consists of 12 people (criminal jury) or 7 people (civil jury) who are selected to hear the evidence in a trial. Juries apply the law, as stated by the judge, to the facts of a case and render a decision. In criminal cases, the jury does not participate in sentencing.

2. Who can be a juror?

In Nova Scotia, anyone who is a Canadian citizen and 18 years or older may be a juror unless:

  • 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 Departments of Justice)
  • you are a Member of the House of Commons, the Senate, the House of Assembly or the Lieutenant Governor
  • you are an officer or non-commissioned member of the reserve Armed Forces on active service
  • you are an officer or non-commissioned member of the regular Armed Forces
  • you are an officer or non-commissioned member of the special Armed Forces

3. Why was I picked?

Your name was selected at random from names taken from the Health Registration List. Being selected means that you have to report for jury duty — it does not mean that you will necessarily sit on a jury.

4. I've received the Jury Summons — now what do I do?

You will need to follow the steps laid out below:

  • read everything in the package carefully as it is important to know what you need to do and when
  • fill out the Juror Information Form to verify you will be in attendance
  • mail the Juror Information Form to the address provided
  • make a note of the date and time you have to attend court
  • keep the Jury Information Line phone number in a safe place and always call that number before you travel to the court

5. Do I have to serve?

Remember that serving on a jury is an important responsibility. It is your chance to be involved in the justice system. You can only be excused from jury duty if you have a good reason.

To ask be excused/deferred from jury duty, you must fill out the "Application to be Excused From Jury Duty." This form is included in the package of documents you received. The Jury Coordinator may excuse you from jury duty if serving on a jury will cause you hardship or if you are ill. If you are asking to be excused because you are ill, you must also send in a Medical Certificate filled out by your doctor, unless you are age 70 years or older. This form is also included in your package.

If serving on a jury is inconvenient now, but you could serve in the near future, the Jury Coordinator may defer you to the next jury session. This means that you will have to serve in the next month or so.

If the Jury Coordinator denies your application, it will then be forwarded to the Judge to review.

The Jury Coordinator will contact you by telephone to let you know if your application has been approved or denied. If you are not excused from jury duty, you must attend court.

6. What happens if I do not fill out the forms and return them or if I do not show up for jury duty without being excused?

Jury duty is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. If you do not send in the Juror Information Form or if you do not show up for jury duty without being excused, you may be arrested and fined up to $1000.

7. I don't know anything about law or about sitting on a jury!

That's fine. If you are chosen to sit on a jury, the judge will give you information about what will happen next and what you need to know.

8. Does my employer have to give me time off to appear for jury duty?

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. Check with your employer.

9. What are "jury fees"?

If selected to sit on a jury, you will be paid $40.00 per day plus mileage – a daily rate of 20 cents per kilometer from your home to the Justice Centre and back.

If not selected to sit on a jury, but you travelled more than 100 kilometers in response to a jury summons, you will be paid 20¢ a kilometer from your home to the Justice Centre and back.

10. I am receiving Employment Insurance benefits. How will attending for jury duty affect my benefits?

Attending court for jury duty will not affect your benefits.

11. I still have questions — who can I ask for more information?

Call the Jury Coordinator for your court. Their name and phone number is on the Juror Summons you received in the mail.