Twelve Angry Men Exposes the Weaknesses of the Jury System as Well as Its Strengths
Twelve Angry Men exposes the weaknesses of the jury system as well as its strengths – The Jurors within Twelve Angry Men portray individual aspects of a 1950s American culture, all with their own take on the American Jury system. The closed minded, sheep like attitudes of the Jurors illustrates the McCathic mentality of the public which directly reflects the weaknesses within the American Jury system.
Though flawed in many aspects one juror displays the key strength in the American justice system when dealing with serious crimes, a unanimous vote must be accomplished through the consideration of reasonable doubt.
The question remains throughout if Juror 8 had not been present would the verdict of been the same? Would reasonable doubt of been taken into consideration? And was the American justice system strong enough to uphold their value of innocent until proven guilty. Throughout the play there are many references to the judicial concept of “reasonable doubt”.
This theme is a thread that runs its way through all the deliberations and eventually exposes the weakness of the whole system as well. Reasonable doubt can be a very difficult term to understand. If a jury has any reasonable doubt that the accused may not have committed the crime, then it must enter a not guilty verdict. Each person has their own opinion of the term reasonable doubt and therefore there is much contrast found across the jury room exposing the weak point in the American judicial system.
None of the jurors believe they were cheating the accused out of a fair trial or had any initial doubt in their minds that he was guilty and yet as the case is further picked apart each juror finds a point of clarity in the unravelling of evidence and a better understanding of the term reasonable doubt. A juror’s individuality is a clear fault in the American jury system as the truth or the facts are never the same in the mind of another. With individuality also come strengths. If it had not been for juror 8# the accused would of surely of been found guilty, as the intellect of one courageous man slowly turned the verdict around.
With a string of evidence that 8# slowly brings forward such as the replica murder weapon and the re-enactment of the neighbours shuffle to the front door to become an eye witness to the killers escape each juror sheds a different light on the events. After gaining the trust of one elder the others follow ‘it’s not easy to stand along’ and yet juror 8# shows the view of the minority in his refusal to be intimidated with the majorities McCathic method and the subtle backing of a wise old man, together shows the strength that one can have on the judicial system and the outcome of a very serious case.
It is clearly evident the polarisation enforced within the judicial system as a result of naivety and ignorance of a typical jurors regarding legal concern exposing with it underlying weakness. In relation to the plays characters it is clear that personal bias is seeping into the grounds of which the case is built on creating instabilities regarding plausibility. Such opinions are depicted by juror 3 and his personal inclusion of his own son into the decision making process creating prejudice that all of “these kids” are of the same substance.
If it was not for the brave actions of juror 8 in standing up and pointing out “he is not your son” then a verdict would have been reached based on the jurors own personal conflicts expressing with it an underlying weakness of the American jury system and community perspective. There are many individual aspects that add to the pros and cons of the 1950s American jury system. These are shown subtly through 12 angry men’s contrasting personalities and the process in which t they come to their decision.