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Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, is a story about twelve Jurors who have to come to a conclusion about whether or not the nineteen-year-old boy standing trial committed the murder of his father. Each of these Juror’s have different outlooks, biases and views of the evidence against the boy. Their comprehension of all of the evidence and votes will influence if the boy will receive the death sentence. This story highlights the many weaknesses in our justice system. The impact that personal biases/bigotry, personal experiences, a disinterest, andvariable witness testimonies has on the outcome in court is quite worrisome.
Personal biases along with acts of prejudice/bigotry are quite damaging to just outcomes in cases and can cause a hung jury. A great example of bigotry in the story is on page fourteen, when Juror #10 says, “They get drunk, they all have no care for human life and are violent . . . “ This is a great example of a overgeneralization of a group of people and prejudice against the defendant. Another example is when Juror #10 says, “Bright! He’s a common ignorant slob and don’t even speak good English.” showing even more generalization against the defendant. Often times jurors can have unconscious or conscious biases against a defendant’s race, sexuality among other things. In the story the defendant’s race is never mentioned, but the boy’s race could definitely influence the juror’s opinion of him. (At the time that this story was written in 1954 the MccArthy witch trials we happening and could’ve possibly influenced Reginald Rose to include acts of bigotry and prejudice in his story.)
Juror’s own opinions, biases, lack of aptitude to carry out their duties and personal experiences are very influential to their outlook on a case. A Juror’s own clouded judgement can impact their opinions to suit the outcome of a case that they are hoping to see. Also, the Jurors background or religious beliefs can definitely impact their views of a defendant who has conflicting beliefs to their own. Some jurors may even disregard important evidence or information to justify their viewpoints or biases towards a defendant or a witness. An example of a juror that doesn’t have the ability to perform their duty in the jury is, Juror #2 who is easily swayed by the other Jurors opinions. An example of this is if a Juror has abused substances and the defendant is on trial for the use of these substances may been seen more favorably to the juror. Overall, most jurors have unconscious biases or lack of aptitude to come to a fair conclusion which can definitely negatively impact a case or cause a hung jury.
Witnesses can often be unreliable sources of information or have ulterior motives to give a false testimony. In the story, many of the witnesses testimonies are questioned by the jurors who are able to logically question the information provided to them to see if there is reasonable doubt. In court, what is stopping someone from giving a false testimony? Not very much. False or dishonest testimonies can definitely shift the case against either the defendant or plaintiff. Overall, witness testimonies can be quite deceitful and damaging to a fair outcome in court.
Juror’s personal biases, lack of aptitude for their duty, bigotry and false testimonies by witnesses are all flaws that influence the outcomes in court. Reginald also puts lots of emphasis on, reasonable doubt as it functions to protect the possibility of sending an innocent boy to death. Overall the story of, “Twelve Angry Men shows the strengths and weaknesses of our justice system from the enlightened juror #8 to the bigoted Juror #10. In conclusion, our justice system has many flaws that are highlighted in the story of 12 Angry Men.
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