R v Chouhan: Signs of Seismic Shift in Jury Selection

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Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Right to Trial by Jury, Presumption of Innocence, Right to Fair Trial, Section 11


Chouhan is a challenging decision, but understandably so, given the challenging issues it poses. The Court indicated the result in the case on the date they heard the appeal. This was appropriate, since both issues in the case-- whether the abolition or peremptory challenges violated the Charter, and even if it did not, whether that change applied retrospectively-- were something of a time bomb ticking away in the heart of the jury system. It was another eight months before the reasons for that result were issued, and those reasons show some fundamental divides in the court. At the most basic level this is reflected in the presence of five different sets of reasons among the nine judges deciding.