Tuesday, November 21, 2023
This paper argues that to reduce jury-induced wrongful convictions, reforms must be targeted towards guiding prosecutorial discretion. The Crown has the ultimate say on whether to allow a judge-alone trial, making prosecutorial decision-making the most practical avenue to address the risks inherent in jury verdicts. Part I examines research on the accuracy of jury verdicts, challenges assumptions on jury secrecy rules in Canada, and identifies practical difficulties in modifying them. Part II explores the unequal appellate review of judge-alone and jury verdicts, and Part III discusses the mandatory jury trial provisions for severe offenses, which may increase the risk of wrongful convictions. Finally, Part IV examines the Crown's role in consenting to judge-alone trials, and proposes policy modifications informed by wrongful convictions risks.