Is there any reason why the prosecution and defense are able to know who the jurors are?

Quite frankly, it just seems like the judicial system is exposing participants to unnecessary risk.

  • There are cases in the US with anonymous juries in special circumstances. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 7:24

2 Answers 2


There are some degrees of anonymity available:

  • The court can refer to jurors simply by their number ("Juror 5") when calling them to be seated at the outset of trial
  • The court can order that no information that could identify a juror be published
  • While the jury-selection cards are part of the court file, the court can order that they be sealed
  • During the course of trial, jurors are to be referred to by their number

In Canada there is no procedure available to have the jury be screened off from public view.

The rationales for not having juries be completely unknown to the parties are:

  • the open court principle
  • it's a right of the defendant in a criminal case to be able to potentially challenge their conviction based on exceptional problems with the jury or its selection; a screened-off jury would prevent this
  • practically, the defence and prosecution will have become aware of the jury through jury selection, including the ability to challenge their selection for cause
  • there is a presumption that the ability to see directly and unmediated the demeanor of the witnesses is an important aspect of judging credibility; not everything would be seen via video

There is likely much flexibility available for a court to allow a screened-off jury in a civil matter, but civil jury trials in Canada are not a right, and no court has seen it worth to experiment with such a thing.


It is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

-- Lord Hewart in Rex v. Sussex Justices, [1924] 1 KB 256

Or, as it is more famously known, "Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done."

In that case, a lawyer who was representing a party in a related civil case retired with the judges to their chamber following which the judges convicted the defendant. At appeal the judges submitted an affidavit stating that the lawyer had scrupulously abstained from discussing the case and had not had any part in the decision. Notwithstanding that that was accepted, the conviction was quashed. The court held:

Nothing is to be done which creates even a suspicion that there has been an improper interference with the course of justice.

If jurors are anonymous then there is no way to satisfy yourself that they are independent and unbiased. Even if they are in fact independent, justice may be done, but it won't be seen to be done.

  • 1
    In fact, if the jurors are perfectly anonymous, it would be challenging for the public to even know they existed. How do you tell a real trial from a show trial without the parties seeing the jury?
    – Ryan_L
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 0:34

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