'Dr Death' Patel's trial jurors to be 'polled' for bias

Sydney, Feb. 4 (ANI): The jurors in the manslaughter trial of Indian-origin doctor Jayant Patel will be 'polled' by lawyers to see if they are biased.

In the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Monday, Justice George Fryberg agreed with an application by defence lawyers to question the 12 jurors and three reserve jurors after they had been selected.

The application was brought under the Jury Act, which includes 'pre-trial publicity' as one of the grounds for questioning a jury about 'prior knowledge' and 'possible bias', the Herald Sun reports.

Lawyers in the Patel trial have been unable to find any other case in Australia where prospective jurors were questioned about their possible bias against a defendant, the report said.

Dr Patel is set to stand trial for the manslaughter of Bundaberg Hospital patient Mervyn Morris, 75, in June 2003.

Morris died three weeks after Patel performed an operation on him.

The trial will begin on Wednesday, with jury selection expected to take the usual one to two hours before the questioning begins.

Justice Fryberg, who will publish his reasons for allowing the application at another date, has asked the defence lawyers and prosecution to consider overnight what format the polling might take, the report said.

He said at this stage he was inclined to prepare a written questionnaire, which the jurors could take to the jury room to complete.

The questions would be answered without discussion, with a bailiff in the room to enforce the rule.

Once the answers were completed lawyers would be able to question any jurors in open court.

Prosecutor Peter Davis SC said research had failed to find any other case in Australia where a jury had been polled after being selected, the report added. (ANI)