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‘Tainted’ jury panel given the boot

Two sets of potential jurors totalling 240 people have been dismissedat Barrie’s courthouse amid allegations that the Crown is usingimproper means to vet them.

Two sets of potential jurors totalling 240 people have been dismissed at Barrie’s courthouse amid allegations that the Crown is using improper means to vet them.

Defence lawyer Mitchell Worsoff applied last week to have two “tainted” lists of these potential jurors scrapped on the basis that the candidates were subject to secret background checks that violate not only their privacy but Canadian law.

Crown prosecutor Karen McCleave did not concede that the lists are improper. “The Crown in no way concedes the merit of the application,” McCleave told Superior Court Justice John McIsaac.

McCleave did consent to the withdrawal of the two lists, but only, she said, because the issue had been the subject of published reports.

The lists contain personal handwritten comments on some potential jurors.

Beside their names are such handwritten notes as: “suicidal in 2001,” or “Ongoing neighbour dispute — neighbour shot his cat” or “Witness to parent’s domestic dispute. Dad is a drinker and assaultive to her mother.”

Other notations indicate that some prospective jurors have Highway Traffic Act convictions or have been charged, but not convicted, of other offences.

Many names had the note “ok” beside them, presumably signifying that they are acceptable.

Attorney-General Chris Bentley criticized the use of such lists last week and vowed that the wide-ranging background checks would stop.

Brendan Crawley, a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s ministry, said such lists are no longer in use. He did not respond to a follow-up call and email asking why the Barrie Crown was openly using them this week.

Critics have blasted the use of such wide-ranging background searches as an invasion of privacy.

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