Persons with Disabilities and Justice Making on Canada's Juries - a Followup Study

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Richard JOCHELSON, University of Manitoba, Canada
Michelle BERTRAND, University of Winnipeg, Canada
In our previous work, using participant pool research, we have found that there is a bias, as indicated by respondents, against multiple disability types, from serving on the Canadian jury. This second study uses a new participant pool using the working language of Manitoba Justice's categorizing of disabilities in the context of jury formation. Using these Justice definitions, we explore whether participants are more inclined to remove persons with disabilities from jury service or to bar them from courthouse access. The study asks whether the the words of Manitoba Justice help instantiate bias in the jury selection process. Jury research in Canada continues to be limited by the Criminal Code's restrictions on speaking with in vivo jurors. Our Constitution mandates a representative jury for accused persons. We ask whether representativeness can be achieved if the practical socio-legal lansdcape continually fosters under-representation of persons with disabilities from the justice making process. The Criminal Code also provides generous excuses for persons with disabilities to be removed from service and allows for numerous challenges from counsel to remove jurors, in many cases without compelling reasons. Persons with disabilities represent one of the largerst identity based demographics of Canadians, and systemic and personal biases may be preventing true representativeness from occuring in the jury trial. A failure to impart this representativeness in the jury process belies a social construction of disability that infantilizes persons with disabilities and which sees persons with disabilities as inherently unreliable, unreasonable, impetuous and unintelligent. Representativeness in the jury box serves as a proxy, reflecting and refracting society's deeply held intolerances.