A help line for ju­rors to re­ceive coun­selling

Aid will now be of­fered to those trau­ma­tized by grisly trial de­tails

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MARK MCNEIL

For­mer ju­rors who have been trau­ma­tized by graphic court ev­i­dence now have a toll-free num­ber to call for help, On­tario’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral Yasir Naqvi told an au­di­ence in Hamilton.

Speak­ing Tues­day at the John Sopinka court­house — where the hor­rific trial into the mur­der of Tim Bosma last year was re­called as a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ence for ju­rors — Naqvi said peo­ple who have fin­ished their jury ser­vice can call 1-844-JUROR-ON (1-844-587-6766) and ask to be put in touch with coun­selling as­sis­tance.

Ju­rors can have up to eight con­fi­den­tial free ses­sions ei­ther in per­son, over the phone, by email or video con­fer­ence.

“Hamilton has seen some dif­fi­cult cases go­ing through,” said Naqvi.

“The Bosma trial is a very good ex­am­ple so we felt it was ap­pro­pri­ate to come to Hamilton to talk about this.”

He said the goal of the new Juror Sup­port Pro­gram is to “help as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble re­gard­less of how much time as passed” and to look for other ways to as­sist in the fu­ture.

On hand at the news con­fer­ence was for­mer juror Mark Far­rant, who had pre­vi­ously gone pub­lic about post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der he suf­fers af­ter serv­ing as a juror on a hor­rific four-month mur­der trial in 2014 in Toronto.

“I’m proud of the role I played in de­liv­er­ing jus­tice (as a jury mem­ber) ... but it did take a toll on me and it did take a toll on my fam­ily still to this day,” Far­rant said.

Naqvi said he came to know of Far­rant’s plight through me­dia re­ports and felt the gov­ern­ment should do some­thing.

He says it’s not clear how wide­spread the prob­lem is but he be­lieves the pro­gram will heighten aware­ness and bring more cases to light.

Far­rant said since go­ing pub­lic with his PTSD: “I’ve been con­tacted by ju­rors from ev­ery province ex­cept one and they all have dif­fer­ent and unique sto­ries about their ex­pe­ri­ences. And some of them, if you can imag­ine, are very tragic.”

Be­fore the gov­ern­ment pro­gram, for­mer ju­rors need­ing as­sis­tance could seek a judge’s or­der to have their coun­selling paid for by the province.

That still stands while a trial is con­tin­u­ing.

Ju­rors feel­ing they need help to get through a trial can ask the judge in the court­room. Once the trial is com­plete, no matter how long af­ter­ward, for­mer ju­rors can use the toll-free num­ber.

Far­rant said he “went through quite a jour­ney to find a coun­sel­lor who was equipped to deal with PTSD. The sys­tem wasn’t in place to look af­ter me. I had to find my own means through a lot of phone calls and a long pe­riod of time to find a clin­i­cian who could take me on.

“I’m ex­tremely grate­ful this pro­gram is in place. I hope it is a spring­board to en­cour­age prov­inces across the coun­try to look at their own pro­grams ... so no juror is look­ing over their pro­vin­cial fence and won­der­ing why there aren’t sup­ports in that province,” he said.

Naqvi said the pro­gram for the time be­ing will be fi­nanced out of his min­istry’s ex­ist­ing bud­get.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Yasir Naqvi an­nounces ini­tia­tive to sup­port ju­rors.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Yasir Naqvi, right, lis­tens as for­mer juror Mark Far­rant talks about his strug­gles with PTSD. They were in Hamilton Tues­day to an­nounce a pro­gram to help ju­rors who have been through dif­fi­cult tri­als.

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