(Image: Edward Ritchuk)
A bedridden 99-year-old has found herself levelled with criminal charges after a court demanded she appear in person to serve on a jury.
The near-centenarian Beaconsfield resident was unable to do so as she receives round-the-clock medical care. Marion Lenko, who is bedridden, hard of hearing and under 24-hour care in the West Island, was summoned to court.
Her son-in-law Edward Ritchuk believed it was "a joke" when he first received a letter demanding the 99-year-old head to court, but the ruling was no joke.
Ritchuk worries his mother-in-law will be criminally liable for not fulfilling her jury duty, although he says checks should have been made before her selection.
"When I first received the letter, I thought it was a joke," Ritchuk said. "Then this week, I received a letter from the justice ministry saying that she has to appear on the 31st of January in court or procedures will be taken against her."
Ritchuk, who tried and failed to find a number to contact the courts with, has no idea what to do next and says he is now stuck in the middle.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Isabelle Boily said a person may be disqualified from serving as a juror under several circumstances.
She added: "If so, it is possible to request an exemption or postponement of participation by completing the form received with the notice."
Despite this, a criminal defence lawyer has called the decision for the court summoning a "shameful" one, and doubts whether a call to the sheriff's office to explain the situation would be enough, CBC reported.
"From what I understand, this family tried to phone and to no avail," Lawyer Eric Sutton said.
"Now she's facing this fear of possibly being fined or imprisoned. I saw it in the paperwork."