Prospective jurors in 'Dr. Death' Patel's manslaughter case scrutinized ahead of trial
Sydney, Feb. 6 : The prolonged process of empanelling Indian-origin doctor Jayant Patel's jury has begun in the Brisbane Supreme Court, with eight prospective jurors discharged in the early stages of selection on Wednesday.
For the first time in Queensland, the 15 prospective jurors in Patel's manslaughter trial will undertake a four-stage selection process before they are accepted to determine whether they harbour any pre-existing bias that might influence their ability to judge the case fairly.
Stage three of that process includes a written questionnaire asking them about what they know of Patel and where they heard it from, the Courier Mail reports.
Stage four would include answering questions from both prosecution and defence legal counsel in open court to screen for any impartiality.
According to the report, Patel has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris, 75, who died three weeks after surgery was performed on him in June 2003.
Justice George Fryberg acknowledged the prospective jurors would likely have heard of the former Bundaberg Hospital surgeon.
In stage two of the selection process, 10 prospective jurors approached Justice Fryberg querying whether they were fit for the role on Wednesday morning.
Two were asked to rejoin the jury, while eight were discharged believing that they may not have been impartial.
A successful application by Crown Prosecutor Peter Davis SC on Tuesday afternoon delayed the opening of the trial until Friday morning, it added.