Feds agree to look at easing jury secrecy provision as part of justice review

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OTTAWA — The federal justice minister says she will look at possible changes to a law forbidding jurors from talking about closed-door deliberations — a secrecy provision that prevents stressed-out former jury members from discussing difficult trials with mental-health professionals.

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she will pursue the matter — and other jury-related issues — with her provincial and territorial counterparts as part of the Liberal government’s ongoing review of the criminal justice system.

Wilson-Raybould makes the commitment in a recent letter to fellow Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, chairman of the House of Commons justice committee.

In May, the committee’s report on improving support for jurors recommended the government amend section 649 of the Criminal Code so that those who serve on juries can discuss deliberations with designated mental-health workers once a trial is over.

In her letter, Wilson-Raybould acknowledges the obstacles the section poses both for jurors and academic researchers who want to talk to people who have served on juries.

She says ensuring that jurors are adequately supported before, during and after their service is an important goal.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

The Canadian Press