The outcome of Lieutenant Frederic Manion’s trial suggests that America’s jury system is impacted by societal norms. At one point, the narrator Paul Biegler states, “And, after all, the jury was nothing more than a group of representative citizens, wasn’t it?” The rhetorical question put forward by Manion’s attorney indicates that people on the jury are a part of society. They’re not immune to its conventions or prejudices.
Manion’s case encompasses sexist attitudes that were present in the 1950s and that are still around today. The prosecution’s attempt to paint Laura as promiscuous demonstrates the pressure on women to reign in their desires. Meanwhile, Laura’s questionable claims highlight her fraught position and the double standard concerning women, men, and affairs. Manion’s murder of Laura’s alleged rapist also reinforces masculine tropes, like that it’s permissible for a husband to defend his wife’s honor at all costs, especially when it comes to supposed sexual impropriety.
All of these mores seem to tie into the jury’s decision to acquit Manion. Although the jury is presented as unpredictable, ultimately, the jury gives a not-entirely-unexpected verdict, as their ruling reinforces many commonplace notions of American society. Thus, the outcome suggests that America’s jury system can only be as impartial and fair as the society that it represents.