The trial judge in an upcoming trial has ruled that, in order to serve on the jury, the jurors must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In R. v. Frampton, 2021 ONSC 5733, Justice Phillips stated that, “in the context of the burgeoning ‘fourth wave’, allowing an unvaccinated person to serve as a juror would irresponsibly introduce risk to the trial”.
Section 4 of the Juries Act indicates that a person is ineligible to serve as a juror if he or she “is physically or mentally unable to discharge the duties of a juror and cannot be reasonably accommodated in such a way as to allow them to perform those duties”.
Justice Phillips said that, since an unvaccinated person introduces a real risk that the trial could be compromised, such a person is physically unable to perform the role of a juror.
His Honour indicated that “[w]hile preventive measures like plexiglass, distancing, masks, et cetera, likely have some salutary effect in reducing Covid-19 spread, it has become clear that the best available method to reduce the risk of transmission and the development of serious illness (or worse) is vaccination”.
His Honour further said that “the reputation of the administration of justice would be compromised if a court declined to adopt the optimal approach toward preserving the health of those compelled by law to participate in the judicial process”.
Justice Phillips determined that an unvaccinated juror cannot be reasonably accommodated in the trial process.
It will be interesting to see if other judges follow the same approach.