Google is not your friend when you are serving jury duty - Patterson v. Peladeau
January 21, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
When cases head to jury trials in Canada the juries are selected and instructed that if they have questions regarding the case, the evidence or the law that they should ask them of the court. Jurors should not discuss the case with friends or family, consume media about the case or in fact do research on the internet. Doing any research on the internet, reading newspapers or watching the news about any case at trial can easily introduce information that is not proper evidence, and which may not even be truth or fact.
Jurors are read instructions by the judge at the start of every trial about the law they need to apply to reach a verdict. The instructions were created by the Canadian Judicial Council and they are standard. Jurors are warned of the serious consequences of ignoring the rules.
Next month the Ontario Court of Appeal will be considering whether a judge erred in his decision two years ago when he turned down a request for mistrial based on a juror doing research on the internet. The judge had warned the jury to not conduct any internet research at the opening of the trial in Ottawa. The trial centred on a car crash and determining liability.
In this case, a juror googled the law about liability a full two months after all evidence had been heard.
Judges regularly advise jurors against looking online for information however people continue to ignore the instruction. This can cause mistrials, or even worse verdicts that are not based on the evidence and law considered in the case.
In Patterson v. Peladeau the jury sent a note to the judge with a question about “fault determination rules” and whether ‘this part of the highway traffick (sic) should be considered”. Fault determination rules are not part of the Highway Traffic Act but rather of the Insurance Act and are used to resolve property damage disputes.
The judge attempted to advise the jury and to clarify their confusion. On appeal Patterson’s lawyers indicated that the rules were no relevant, that allowing them to be considered was highly prejudicial, and that the judge should have agreed to the request for mistrial. They also argue that the judge failed to conduct a proper inquiry of all the jurors.
|Posted under Accident Benefit News, Automobile Accident Benefits, Car Accidents
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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.
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