The Challenge for Cause Procedure in Canadian Criminal Law

Authors

  • Regina A. Schuller York University
  • Caroline Erentzen York University

Keywords:

Challenge, peremptory, jury bias, screening, Impugnación, perentorio, sesgo del jurado, cribado

Abstract

There is a longstanding presumption in Canadian law that jurors will act impartially in carrying out their duties, but this presumption may be challenged when the defendant is a member of a racialized minority group. In those circumstances, the defence may initiate a challenge for cause procedure, wherein potential jurors are questioned about their ability to set aside any racial prejudice and judge the case solely on the evidence. Although the challenge for cause procedure has been in place for some time, little attention has been given to the process and whether it in fact effectively screens for juror bias. This article provides an overview of the challenge for cause procedure, with particular attention to race-based challenges, as well as psychological research assessing the effectiveness of the procedure. Reference is made to the authors’ analysis of actual jury selection proceedings in which the challenge procedure was invoked. The data revealed that, although only a small percentage of potential jurors admitted to potential prejudice in open court, many more were excluded by triers and counsel.

En el derecho canadiense existe la presunción antigua de que los jurados actúan de forma imparcial al desarrollar sus funciones. Sin embargo, esta presunción se puede cuestionar cuando el acusado pertenece a una minoría racial. En esas circunstancias, la defensa puede iniciar un procedimiento de impugnación del jurado en el que se interroga a los potenciales miembros del jurado sobre su capacidad para dejar de lado cualquier prejuicio racial y basarse únicamente en evidencias para juzgar el caso. A pesar de que la impugnación del jurado es un tema que ha estado de actualidad durante algún tiempo, se ha prestado poca atención al proceso y si realmente se detectan de forma efectiva sesgos dentro del jurado. Este artículo proporciona una visión general del procedimiento de impugnación del jurado, prestando especial atención a las impugnaciones basadas en la raza, así como de la investigación psicológica para evaluar la eficacia del procedimiento. Se hace referencia al análisis de las autoras de los procesos de selección del jurado en los que se invocó la impugnación del jurado. Los datos revelaron que, aunque sólo un pequeño porcentaje de los posibles miembros de jurado admitieron un prejuicio potencial de forma pública, jueces y abogados excluyeron a muchos más.

DOWNLOAD THIS PAPER FROM SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2756034

Author Biographies

Regina A. Schuller, York University

* Regina A. Schuller is a professor of Psychology at York University, who is active in both teaching and research. Her research interests focus on the intersection of psychology and law, including implicit racial biases in decision processes, as well as juror decision-making in cases involving violence against women. York University, Department of Psychology, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3. Canada. schuller@yorku.ca

Caroline Erentzen, York University

 Caroline Erentzen is a doctoral candidate at York University working under the supervision of Dr. Schuller. Prior to attending York, she completed formal legal training and practiced law in Ontario. Her research interests include implicit juror biases as well as reactions to religious and race-based hate crimes. York University, Department of Psychology, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3. Canada. erentzen@yorku.ca

Downloads

Published

26-11-2014

How to Cite

Schuller, R. A. and Erentzen, C. (2014) “The Challenge for Cause Procedure in Canadian Criminal Law”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 6(2), pp. 315–333. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/549 (Accessed: 6 May 2021).