The Ontario Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for an Aboriginal man convicted of manslaughter in 2008. The majority on the Court found that Clifford Kokopenace did not receive a fair trial because the jury that heard his case had no Aboriginal members. Mr. Kokopenace argued that his Charter s.11 right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, and his s. 15 Charter right to equal treatment under the law had been violated. The Court said that the right to an impartial jury is not an absolute right but that the state must use a jury roll that reflects the distinct perspectives that make up the community, thus ensuring that the jury acts as the conscience of the community. It found that the Ontario government had not done enough to ensure that jury rolls in the northern parts of the province adequately represented on-reserve Aboriginal people, who make up about one-third of the population, but accounted for just four percent of the jury roll.
R. v. Kokopenace, 2013 ONCA 389 (CanLii)