How does Twelve Angry Men demonstrate the weaknesses of the jury system?

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I actually disagree with the assertion that Twelve Angry Men demonstrates the weaknesses of the jury system. I think it actually demonstrates the strength of the jury system.

We have what eleven jurors consider to be a case that requires no examination. They vote guilty on the first vote. One juror, juror #8, votes not guilty. Because the jury system requires a unanimous vote, the defendant cannot be found guilty after this first vote. The rest of the play shows how juror #8 demonstrates that there is too much doubt in the prosecution’s case to convict the defendant.

By requiring a unanimous decision, the jury system forces the jurors to examine the evidence and talk to each other about it. Twelve Angry Men does a nice job of showing how the jurors wrestle with the evidence and look at the biases that they bring with them into the jury room. That is the main goal of our jury system: to avoid rushes to judgment and to try and make sure that the innocent are not unjustly convicted.

If there is a weakness to the system, it is that the guilty will sometimes (maybe often) be found not guilty. That is the price that must be paid to safeguard rights of the innocent. You can’t have it both ways.


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