Alberta sheriffs randomly pick shoppers for jury duty

If you go shopping in Alberta, you may just get a jury summons while browsing the aisles.
If you go shopping in Alberta, you may just get a jury summons while browsing the aisles. iStock.

Usually when you are informed that you have been selected for jury duty it’s in the form of a letter.

If you go shopping in Alberta, you may just get a jury summons while browsing the aisles. That is what recently happened to one woman while she was shopping at a Walmart in Hinton, Alta.

When two Alberta sheriffs approached Colleen Darbyshire and asked her to follow them, she didn’t know what was going on. She told CBC News: “It was a bit of a shock. I thought it was [because] they were thinking I was shoplifting.”

She was told she had no choice but to follow them, where she was put on a bus with about 20 other very confused people, some of them with their shopping bags, others pulled out of work. One man was even pulled out of his anniversary party.

The officers informed them that they had been summoned for jury duty.

Can people just be randomly selected for jury duty on the spot?

Alberta’s Jury Act allows for this. The act says that if there are not enough people on a jury panel, then “additional persons shall be summoned immediately to be included on the jury panel.”

It appears that is exactly what happened that day. A judge had to issue the immediate summons after losing a juror before the hearings even began, so the sheriffs were dispatched to find them, and find them and herd them on the bus they did.

After the confused potential jurors arrived at the court, they went through a two-hour selection process. Apparently people weren’t too enthused about jury duty, as one of the potentials pumped his fists upon hearing he was dismissed.

After the right juror was found, the rest of the potential jurors were then ushered back on the bus to the very mall they were taken from.

So in the end, all’s well that ends well – at least for those who weren’t selected.

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