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Discuss whether or not you think this group ever worked as a team for the same purpose...

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bobmcbob24 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 27, 2013 at 9:18 PM via web

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Discuss whether or not you think this group ever worked as a team for the same purpose and whether you think they accomplished the job assigned to them-- to deliver a fair judgement based on the evidence presented during the trial.

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kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 28, 2013 at 1:35 AM (Answer #1)

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"Twelve Angry Men," Reginald Rose's play about the dynamics involved in jury deliberations, and the efforts of a lone juror to educate the others about the concept of "reasonable doubt," has undergone a number of minor alterations over the years, with repeated stage productions, the well-known and highly respected 1957 film directed by the late-Sidney Lumet, and a made-for-television movie all tackling the subject.  While the characters represent possibly too broad a spectrum of intellects, temperaments, and prejudices, the story nevertheless does a good job of depicting the process by which a jury renders a verdict of guilt or innocence.

Whether the 12 jurors ever acted like a team is a little unfair to the subject matter.  It is not the responsibility of a jury to act as a team, which denotes not just uniformity of purpose, which is fine, but uniformity of judgement.  The purpose of jury deliberations is to come to an unanimous decision regarding guilt or innocence.  As the play demonstrates at the outset, it takes only one dissenting juror to prevent resolution.  To the extent that there is a team effort in "Twelve Angry Men," it is to the extent that most of them initially unite in opposition to the lone dissenter and attempt to compel him to change his vote from innocent to guilty.

As the play progresses, what began as a lone dissenter from the guilty verdict most had initially supported, soon becomes a heated confrontation over the very essence of our criminal justice system, the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  As more and more of the jurors become convinced that reasonable doubt does exist with regard to whether the defendant murdered his father, the momentum begins to shift, and more and more of the jurors begin to try and convince the last holdout, Juror 3, that his rage about his own personal loss was improperly influencing his perspective with regard to the defendant in the trial at hand.

One could argue that the jury acted as a team, both in the beginning, when there was one dissenter, and at the end, when there was again one dissenter.  It is wrong, in general, however, to view a jury as a team.  Such an approach strips from the jury process the integrity that comes from 12 distinct individuals from 12 different backgrounds coming together toward a common decision on the fate of a man's (or woman's) life.  That is teamwork to a degree, but not in the way envisioned in the question.  To the extent that the jury did come together to render a fair and informed judgement, then it definitely accomplished the job to which it was assigned.


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