Lawyers for both sides in the trial of former Harvard affiliate Dr. Arif Hussain yesterday selected three jurors but rejected 13 other candidates, further drawing out a selection process that, because of its unusual nature, could last up to two weeks.
Hussain, a former resident doctor at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and women's Hospital (BWH), is accused of the 1978 rape of one Waltham hospital patient and the sexual assault of another.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Andrew G. Meyer ordered Monday that no mention be made throughout the course of the trial of Hussain's previous conviction for the rape of a BWH nurse in 1979. This ruling has complicated the selection of jurors, leading Meyer to exclude from the jury anyone who has been exposed to news of the earlier trial.
In an effort to direct attention away from Hussain's previous conviction. Meyer has been holding the jury selection, which normally takes place in a public courtroom, in his private chambers. But the judge has allowed reported into the chambers, informally requesting that they not write about his decision to exclude jurors who are aware of Hussain's previous conviction.
Of the 29 jury candidates considered yesterday, Meyer rejected 25 for reasons of bias or exposure to prejudicial pretrial publicity. The judge excluded one woman from jury because her sister had recently been raped.
Explaining the need for a jury with no knowledge of Hussain's earlier conviction, Meyer said. "There's a tendency for the jury to say to themselves. "He was guilty before he must be guilty now and that's just what we can't allow." Assistant District Attorney William Kettlewell '73, the trial's prosecutor, said he did not think the judge's move would affect the prosecution's case.
Meyer has sequestered the seven jurors who remain eligible in a Ramada Inn in Woourn. The jury in this case will remain isolated there for the duration of what now promises to be a month-long trial.
Lawyers for each side may reject up to 18 of the jurors the judge selects and William C. Troy, a defence attorney, predicted that the trial would not get underway before Wednesday.