Who is the defendant in the trial of Twelve Angry Men?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The defendant in this trial is a young man who has been accused of stabbing his father during a family argument. The young boy is considered to be lower class status by most of the jurors and is referred to in very unflattering and stereotypical language throughout the deliberation. 

The father has died as a result of the stabbing.  The case is left up to twelve men from very different backgrounds and with their own agendas to decide his guilt or innocence.

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engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The defendant is described by jurors as "a nineteen year old boy" who stabs his own father in the torso. Great deliberation takes place over his guilt or innocence, and in the end, it is decided that a hung jury will result. Stereotyping and generalizing language is used by the jurors to indicate that they see the defendant, at first, as someone of a "lower" status at this point in history. Those who believe the defendant is guilty keep referring to "they" and "them," as if the boy's race or socioeconomic status is a factor in their decision making.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Twelve Angry Men, the defendant is a nineteen-year-old Hispanic youth from the slums who is charged with first degree murder of his father.

The jury is entirely composed of white men. Most of the jury is lower-middle to middle class men. Some are older, and they bring their individual biases and prejudices to the table. In fact, with the initial vote, only one juror votes "Not Guilty." This vote is made simply because Juror No. 8 feels that the case warrants discussion since the verdict will be so serious:

There were eleven votes for guilty. It's not so easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.

As the men discuss the case, they realize that some of the testimony given was not true. And the so-called weapon is a knife that can easily be for sale in a few stores. Juror 8 proves this because he buys one easily at a local store.

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