Posted on May 22nd, 2015
by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?
Clifford Kokopenace, an aboriginal man from the Grassy Narrows reserve, was convicted of manslaughter in the 2007 death of Taylor Assin. Before sentencing, his lawyers learned that the roll from which jurors were selected consisted of 699 potential jurors, of whom only 29 were First Nation on-reserve residents — about 4.1 per cent.
But in that district, on-reserve residents made up 32 per cent of the adult population. Kokopenace’s lawyers argued his Charter rights to a fair and impartial jury were violated. Ontario’s Court of Appeal agreed.
In a 5-2 decision written by Justice Michael Moldaver, the Supreme Court ruled an accused’s right to a representative jury is “not the appropriate mechanism for repairing the damaged relationship between particular societal groups and our criminal justice system.”
The court said there is no right to a jury roll of a particular composition, nor to one that proportionately represents all the diverse groups in Canada. The court found that when Kenora’s 2008 jury roll was formed, Ontario’s efforts to include aboriginal on-reserve residents in the process were “reasonable.”