NEWS

Judge scolds 'flabby, sad generation' for skipping jury duty

05/21/2013 09:39 EDT | Updated 07/21/2013 05:12 EDT
Failing to report for jury duty could be a costly mistake for 95 Nova Scotians.

The chief justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court is demanding to know why 95 people, or 40 per cent of prospective jurors, were not in court Tuesday for the start of a five-day trial.

"It's a duty to participate," Justice Joseph Kennedy said. "But not everybody apparently understands that."

He said jury trials are central to democracy, and that Canadians haven’t done enough to pay thanks to those who fought in wars and in battles at Vimy Ridge and in Normandy.

“We haven’t been asked to do that much. When we are asked, we don’t vote, we don’t show up for jury duty. We are a flabby, sad generation.”

Kennedy instructed sheriff's deputies to track down the missing jurors and bring them to court to explain themselves.

"I'm going to get these people off of Facebook and into this courtroom," Kennedy said.

"They're going to pull themselves away from Judge Judy's courtroom. They're coming into my courtroom."

Kennedy told sheriff's deputies that the missing jurors should be told to bring their toothbrushes when they come to court.

This is the third time in recent months that justices have tried to deal with absenteeism in jury pools.

In February, Justice Glen McDougall summoned nine people to court to explain themselves. They were supposed to be part of a jury pool hearing the case of Chaze Lamar Thompson. He was convicted of murder in the death of Dartmouth cab driver Sergei Kostin. McDougall fined one of the missing jurors $50 because he didn't accept her explanation for not reporting for duty.

Earlier this month, Justice Peter Rosinksi fined three people $200 each for failing to report for jury duty. He had presided over the four-week murder trial of Cody Muise, who was convicted of killing Brandon Hatcher.

"Apparently, $200 in this day and age doesn't do it,” said Kennedy in mentioning the Rosinksi decision. The maximum fine under the Nova Scotia Juries Act is $1,000.

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