Eight Patel jurors discharged due to impartiality concerns

MORE than half of the jury empanelled to try Jayant Patel for manslaughter have been discharged due to impartiality doubts.

The four-stage polling process of the jury started today with Supreme Court Justice George Fryberg asking the 15 jurors to consider whether anything could impact their impartiality.

It is the first time jurors have been polled in Queensland.

One juror was discharged due to his knowledge or association with a Crown witness.

Justice Fryberg asked the jury to consider whether they knew Dr Patel, knew anyone who worked for Queensland Health or read reports about Dr Patel.

Jurors also considered whether any personal events would hamper their ability to be impartial in deciding whether Dr Patel was medically negligent.

He asked jurors to weigh up whether these situations had any impact on their confidence and impartiality to decide the case.

Nine jurors were discharged from the trial.

Justice Fryberg said not many of the jurors would not have heard of Dr Patel.

He touched on the pre-trial publicity issue surrounding the high-profile case.

He said the happenings at Bundaberg Hospital in 2003 were the subject of widespread publicity, intense political controversy, heartfelt displays of emotion and wide and varied attacks on a number of people.

t was essential every member of the jury was seen to be impartial as between the prosecution and defendant and confident in deciding the case, Justice Fryberg warned the jury.

"That is particularly important in a case such as the present," he said.

"If we can work together we can make sure this jury is, and is seen to be, completely impartial and confident."

Jurors also had to fill out a questionnaire on potential bias and their knowledge of Dr Patel.

Dr Patel is on trial after pleading not guilty to the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris in 2003.

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