Editorial: Paucity of First Nations jurors – Calgary Herald

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Editorial: Paucity of First Nations jurors – Calgary Herald

by ahnationtalk on May 27, 2015368 Views

May 27, 2015

What if they put out a call for jurors and hardly anyone showed up? That — rather than any undertones of racial bias — appears to be the reason that a northern Ontario aboriginal man, Clifford Kokopenace, didn’t have aboriginal jurors hearing his manslaughter case.

The Supreme Court of Canada quite rightly got to the heart of the matter when it ruled last week that the lack of aboriginal jurors was no reason to overturn Kokopenace’s conviction. Everyone has a right to be tried by a jury of his or her peers, but the court heard that the response rates for requests for jury duty in aboriginal communities are quite low. If one’s peers don’t do their duty and step up to be jurors, then the trial can’t simply be annulled; it has to go forward with other jurors.

The Ontario Court of Appeal had ruled that the lack of aboriginals was a breach of Kokopenace’s rights to a trial by peers, and it therefore threw out his conviction in the stabbing death of a friend on the Grassy Narrows Reserve. However, among the 175 potential jurors, only eight were First Nations residents living on reserve. None of those was selected.

Read More: http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-paucity-of-first-nations-jurors

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