Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel on Monday pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing potentially life-threatening bodily harm to his patient during a 2004 surgery in Australia. Meanwhile, as the trial continued on Tuesday (Sept 24), the presiding Judge Terence Martin slammed a Channel 7 report related to the case as "totally irresponsible.
A program about alleged problems with doctors was aired on Channel 7 current affairs program Today Tonight on Monday night.
On Tuesday morning, reports say, the trial got delayed as both persecution and defence lawyers complained to the court about the Channel 7 program.
In his observation, the Judge warned 14 person fellow- jurors to ignore such reporting or risk a "grave injustice" and urged them to put all reporting out of their minds.
Source: You Tube/TodayTonight
Considering the highly emotive nature of the trial and the world-wide publicity and media coverage it drew, empanelling process for the jurors has been "more complicated and lengthier than usual."
Reports suggest that six jurors had to be excused and replaced after raising matters privately with Justice Terence Martin.
The jurors were read out a list of witnesses in the case and asked if they knew any of the individuals, and whether that would affect their ability to be fair, reports said.
The Jurors were required to answer a questionnaire, including whether they have heard anything adverse about Patel. It also said that jurors were not allowed to discuss their case response with each other.
Patel, an American surgeon is at the centre of a 2005 scandal in which he was accused of gross incompetence while working at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland, Australia.
The 64-year-old doctor, who was the head of surgery at the Bundaberg Hospital, is facing re-trial in the Brisbane District Court for unnecessarily removing patient Ian Rodney Vowels's colon during the surgery which happened nine years ago.
Patel, was extradited from the US face criminal charges in 2008. In June 2010, he was convicted of 3 counts of manslaughter and one case of grievous bodily harm, and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
However, in August 2012, all convictions were quashed by the full bench of the High Court of Australia.
A retrial was ordered in the case due to 'highly emotive and prejudicial evidence that was irrelevant to the case.'
Interestingly, Patel, who faced a re-trial in Feb 2013 for the alleged manslaughter of 75-year-old patient Mervyn Morris in 2004, was found not guilty.