A judge in the Quebec Superior Court has ruled that a juror does not need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in the Montreal fraud trial.
Justice Mario Longpre, in a ruling issued on Friday, wrote that full vaccination was not necessary and cited privacy concerns and jury representation in his ruling.
The accused in the trial brought the request citing a recent ruling in Ontario, which saw an Ottawa judge rule that all jurors participating in a murder trial need to be fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine. will be required. That decision cited concerns about the delta version and the rising case count.
But Ontario’s Jury Act allows people who are not physically able to perform their duties to be disqualified, a distinction that does not exist in Quebec, where the law only allows mental incapacity or impairment. Allows people with disabilities to make a discount, Longpre wrote.
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“The Jury Act in force in Quebec does not permit candidate jurors to be disqualified by reason of physical incapacity, even if it may conclude that the fact of not being adequately vaccinated constitutes such incapacity,” the judge wrote.
Courts have differed in recent Canadian decisions on full vaccination for jurors. A B.C. Supreme Court ruling last month did not allow the Crown to ask jurors questions about their vaccination status, citing confidentiality.
In the Ontario ruling, the verdict did not allow potential jurors to ask why they had not been vaccinated, limiting the question of whether or not they were.
“The principle of jury selection in Canada is also based on the fundamental principle of respect for the confidentiality of candidate jurors,” Longpre wrote.
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Longpre said selecting a jury made up of adequately vaccinated people also raises privacy issues that are protected by the province’s human rights charter as well as Quebec’s civil code.
Longpre wrote, the automatic exclusion of non-vaccinated jurors from the start of the selection process could create problems for representation, which could create issues for things like fairness.
He said there is no vaccination requirement for actors of the Quebec justice system and that the province’s vaccine passports are not used for courthouses.
The judge also noted that jury trials have taken place during the pandemic without major issues or delays and that the province has gone with 14 jurors to ensure that the trials run smoothly.
He wrote that jurors should be made aware of health measures as well as the fact that people may not be adequately vaccinated, and they should be allowed to seek exemptions for COVID-19 concerns.
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