Private member’s bill C-417, introduced by Conservative MP Michael Cooper, aims to help former jurors suffering from mental-health issues arising from their jury service get the help they need. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Bill to ease jury secrecy in the name of mental health clears another hurdle

OTTAWA — The House of Commons justice committee has approved a bill that would ease secrecy by allowing former jurors to discuss all aspects of a stressful criminal trial with a mental-health professional.

Private member’s bill C-417, introduced by Conservative MP Michael Cooper, is now slated to return to the Commons for third-reading debate.

Cooper says the legislation would help former jurors suffering from mental-health issues arising from their jury service get the help they need.

The bill would amend a Criminal Code section enacted in 1972 to help make the jury room a confidential forum that encourages frank debate among jurors.

The government says the section does not forbid discussing emotions during jury deliberations or the evidence that was presented in court, but does bar disclosure of information such as opinions expressed, arguments made and votes cast.

The committee called in a report last year for a more lenient rule to allow a juror to speak about these matters with a mental-health practitioner.

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