In Twelve Angry Men, what would have happened to the boy if the Fourteenth Amendment had not been ratified and the jury didn't apply the "due process of law"?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The cornerstone of the American Justice System is founded on this premise, "innocent until proven guilty".The "Due Process of Law" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is not the role of the jury.The possibility that the boy would have been executed comes from the presence of human prejudice. The role of the court is to see that due process and equal protection under the law is established. The court would oversee jury selection and the behavior of the trial. In a free society it is impossible to force people to think one way or another. Prior to the Civil War the Supreme Court ruled that the actions of the federal government had no effect on state governments. As a result, there were states denying civil liberties to certain individuals. The Fourteenth Amendment changed that, "federalizing" The Bill of Rights. The defendant in Twelve Angry Men received "due process"; in other words, he had a trial. Was equal protection under the law administered here? The question is not whether the defendant received a trial, but rather did he receive a "fair" trial. Stereotyping is always a dangerous game. Twelve Angry Men teaches us just how dangerous and scary ignorance can be, however it also reminds us about leadership and the importance of something greater than ourselves. If we have the capacity to reach beyond our individual bias, we better do it, because that is where our salvation lies.

katemschultz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most of the jurors have looked at the evidence and assumed the boy was guilty. However, the prosecutors need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the boy is guilty. Juror number 8 feels there is a reasonable doubt. The boy is also to be presumed innocent until he is proven guilty by the prosecution. It's not the defense attorney's job to prove the boy is innocent. So, if the boy starts out innocent and there is a reasonable doubt, the jury cannot convict him. If Juror 8 hadn't pointed this out, the boy would have been convicted and sentenced to death.