Melbourne: Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel's defence team has won the right to question jurors ahead of his manslaughter trial, the first of its kind in a legal case in Australia's Queensland province.
62-year-old Patel's legal team led by Ken Fleming made an application under the Jury Act to poll the jury to try to discern any bias against their client. Patel, who is accused of causing the death of 75-year-old Mervyn Morris at the Bundaberg Hospital in 2003, is due to face trial in the Supreme Court in Brisbane from January 5.
The Crown has alleged that Patel caused his patient's death by performing an unnecessary operation. Justice George Fryberg allowed the application and it is likely that the 12 jurors and three reserves will be asked to fill out a questionnaire in the jury room about Patel, according to media reports here.
Fryberg is expected to publish his reasons for allowing the application at another date. He has asked the defence lawyers and prosecution to consider overnight what format the polling might take.
The questions would be answered without discussion, with a bailiff in the room to enforce the rule and once the answers were completed lawyers would be able to question any jurors in open court, according to the reports.
Unless there was a request from a juror for an answer to remain private, the answers would be made public, it said.