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In Twelve Angry Men, before the jurors are locked in the deliberation room, what is the...

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ouat | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 18, 2013 at 4:25 AM via web

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In Twelve Angry Men, before the jurors are locked in the deliberation room, what is the last thing they hear that might influence their thinking in forming a verdict on the defendant's guilt or innocence?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2013 at 11:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Interestingly, the drama of Twelve Angry Men begins after all the proceedings of the trial of a youth accused of killing his father, who is charged with first-degree murder. As the jurors wait to move to the deliberation room where they will be sequestered from news media and any other contact with the outside world, they are instructed by the judge about the seriousness of the charge of first-degree murder and their approach to reaching a verdict because the life of a person is at stake. The judge adds,

If there is a reasonable doubt in your minds as to the guilt of the accused...then you must declare him not guilty. If, however, there is no reasonable doubt, then he must be found guilty. Whichever way you decide, the verdict must be unanimous. I urge you to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully.

It is these words that the man of integrity, Juror No. 8, recalls when he alone votes "not guilty" on the initial vote.  In fact, he admits that he does not know at this point if the youth is not guilty, but he cannot conclusively say "guilty" either. He simply explains that it is not easy for him to raise his hand and "send a boy off to die without talking about it first." Fortunately for the defendant, at least one man has recalled the instructions of the judge. Later, Juror No. 8 leads the others to discuss and reason and counter-argue objections that are biased and prejudicial and emotional. Finally, he asks the pointed question, "Does anyone think there still is not a reasonable doubt?" and the other eleven men concede to the only  logical conclusion about the defendant.

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