Advocates call for mental health help for jurors on anniversary of Stafford verdict

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Advocates fighting for better mental health and financial supports for Canadians who serve on juries say they are concerned about the stalled progress of a bill that would allow jurors to disclose of details of the cases they witness to a medical professional.

Mark Farrant, founder of the Canadian Juries Commission and a former juror, says he does not understand why Bill S-212 has been left to languish in the Senate.

He says he worries the negative mental health impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on many could make jury duty even more distressing to jurors who must see and hear graphic evidence in difficult cases.

Farrant wanted to highlight the issue today in particular, as it marks the ninth anniversary of the guilty verdict that sent Michael Rafferty to prison for the brutal rape and murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford.

Tina Daenzer, a juror in the case against Paul Bernardo 26 years ago, says she still can’t walk alone at night because she says she knows there are “monsters” in the world who look like regular people.

She says she worries about the mental health of other jurors who may also have to serve on difficult trials, as the Criminal Code currently prohibits jurors from speaking to a mental health professional about anything not discussed in open court — something Bill S-212 aims to correct.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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