Do you think a jury today, presented with the same evidence, would have found Tom guilty in To Kill a Mockingbird? Why?Do you think a jury today, presented with the same evidence, would have found...

Do you think a jury today, presented with the same evidence, would have found Tom guilty in To Kill a Mockingbird? Why?

Do you think a jury today, presented with the same evidence, would have found Tom guilty in To Kill a Mockingbird? Why?

Asked on by jamnoel

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

No. The evidence presented in the trial of Tom Robinson certainly created reasonable doubt regarding Tom's guilt. 

Juries today remain biased and subject to human flaws, as always, but one would hope that given the dedicated efforts of so many leaders and teachers to instill a sense of human equality, regardless of race, into the population, we might have a better chance at seeing justice done. 

With this said, it still remains the case that social justice is being fought for today regarding the assignment of penalties and punishments. Race seems to continue to play a part in determining who is given what punishments. This is especially concerning in regards to the assignment of the death penalty. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

After the O. J. Simpson trial and the Casey Anthony trial, it is apparent that all that is needed for a not guilty verdict is for the defense to create some doubt in the minds of the jury.  With Tom's withered arm, this doubt would easily be established.  Also, times are much different now after Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Gay Rights, etc. People's attitudes are changed, to be sure.  Further, juries are composed of all races and genders, not twelve men of one race as in To Kill a Mockingbird.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It is unlikely that Tom would be convicted in any court in the land if the trial were held today. In fact, it is likely that he would not even have been on trial. There may be pockets of extreme racism where Tom would be found guilty simply because he is black; however, most people are reasonable and would quickly see this case for what it is.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with the previous posts that Tom Robinson would not (simply on this evidence) have been convicted.  However, I am less sanguine than they are about the state of our criminal justice system today.

Tom Robinson's accuser is not a high class person.  If she were, I would say that it would still be possible to convict Tom today.  There are plenty of ways in which poor defendants (particularly of color) can get railroaded in today's system.  This is particularly true when they are accused of offenses against sympathetic victims.  But Mayella is not high class and she is not really going to get the jury's (and the media's) sympathy so I think Tom would get off.

ms-charleston-yawp's profile pic

Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Absolutely NOT!  The evidence is overwhelming in Tom Robinson's defense!  (Not to mention that Atticus is a phenomenal lawyer!)  She-said vs. he-said doesn't cut it anymore.  Not to mention the infamous hand of Tom Robinson!!!

It is embarrassing to me that the legal system failed one of our citizens at any time in United States history.  Sadly, this was surely the case in the post-war South.  It is something that actually makes me feel shame.  Thus, even though To Kill a Mockingbird is a fictional novel, the lack of justice during that time period cannot be denied.

Thank God we have come a long way!!!

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There is little doubt that Tom would not have been found guilty if his trial was presented today. The jury's decision would probably have been immediately thrown out or overturned by a judge because of the obvious racial implications, but other reasons would also have supported Tom's acquittal. A total lack of forensics evidence (i.e. a rape kit) was absent nor was there a medical exam given. The only eye witness was Mayella, whose own statements were conflicting; she claimed that Tom both did and did not assault her. Her testimony also differed from that of her father. There was never any specific testimony concerning the rape, only assault. The prosecutor would never have been allowed to repeatedly refer to Tom as "boy." Only in the mid-20th century era of the Deep South would this verdict have occurred.

lsumner's profile pic

lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

I do believe that times have changed for the better. I believe that a jury today, presented with the same evidence, would find Tom Robinson not guilty. Atticus did a good job and proved that Tom could not have beaten her because his left arm was injured.

Living in the twenty-first century, I believe that we have overcome racism more so. Also, today a better selection process for a jury is possible. It would not consist of twelve, white, racist men.

With education, more people have overcome racism. More people truly believe that all men are created equal. The difference today compared to the 1930s is education. More people have an opportunity for an education. Also, an education today teaches that all men are created equal. An education today teaches all of history and not just the part a white man of the 1930s would want you to hear.

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