Book Reports / 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men

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Autor:  anton  19 November 2010
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1. Introduction

The following report will go into detail about the movie 12 angry men and how the current Jury system operates. It will list all the key turning points, and incorporate how the movie can be portrayed into the real life struggles of the current jury system.

Not only will this report be based on the movie 12 angry men but will also go into detail how whether or not the current jury system within Queensland is beneficial to the community. It discusses why the unanimous verdict must stay for it to be beneficial, and other possible alternatives to the current system.

2. Overview of the movie 12 Angry Men

The Movie 12 Angry Men was originally released in 1957, and later released in 1997. Both the movies have similar script lines, but have different actors. Along these lines the characters in the 1997 movie that was directed by William Friedkin, goes deeper into the jury system, and how it operates. Although both have very similar dialogs, the later the casting members are from different racial backgrounds. The following Report will go into detail about the 1997 version of 12 Angry Men

The Plot is based around twelve jury members who have to decide the fate of an 18-year-old boy, accused of murdering his father. The movie does not show the trial itself, but rather the way the jury system operators and the issues that surround jury members, and how the evidence can be misleading.

Once the Judge has given her final say, “It now becomes your duty to separate fact from fiction… you find the defendant guilty, the bench will not entertain mercy, bare in mind he could face the death sentence” As the jury members entered that jury room to decide the fate of the accused, many of the jury members talk about other subjects rather than the trail itself. One talks about the baseball, others talk about their careers.

As the Jury were, delivering their verdict, all but one returned a guilty response. It is apparent that most of the jury members have a personal prejudice that hinders their verdict bearing. When Juror 8 is questioned on his verdict that being not guilty his response was “I don’t know but I need to hear more before sending a boy of to die”

There were eight key turning points in where the jurors changed their verdict to not guilty; this was based on the creditability of the evidence.

There are four main pieces of evidence that are discussed and disputed in the jury room. These 4 pieces of evidence each bring weight to a juror’s repose and verdict. However, throughout the movie one juror will not entertain that the accused may not have committed the murder.

There are 4 pieces of evidence brings together the movie, and in the jury room this evidence is discussed and disputed.

The four items are as follows.

2.2 The Evidence

2.2.1 The Knife: The Knife plays a key part in several key turning points, and will be used for both for and against the defendant throughout the jury’s deliberations. However the 1st time that the evidence around the knife is put forward for the case of guilty. It’s Creditability as a key piece of evidence is lowered. The key points around the knife were that

1. The knife was allegedly one of a kind. This was said by the Service attendant who sold the knife to the boy.

2. The Accused Showed the 3 of his friends the knife after he brought it at around 8.45 pm

3. The Accused Lost the knife sometime between 11.30 pm and when arrested. The knife allegedly fell through a hole in the accused pants pocket.

2.2.2 Two Witnesses to the murder: 1st Witness was a woman who claims to have seen the accused stab his father. This was seen at around 12.10 am threw the open window of a passing crate train, 60 feet away. 2nd Witness was an Elderly man, who lived beneath the accused apartment.

1. Claims to have heard the accused yell out “I’m going to kill you” then hearing a thump on the floor, this was around 12.10 2. Claims to have seen the have seen the accused run down the stairway. He claims to have heard and seen all this within 15 seconds

Both the witnesses’ statements correspond with the time.

2.2.3 The accused Alibi: He claimed to have left home at around 11.30 and got home at around 3 am in which that time claims to have seen a movie marathon but could not remember which ones he had seen. Nevertheless, later in Court when on the stand he could remember.

2.3 Key Turning Points

1. The Producing of the Knife: Jury The number 3 brings forward the knife issue. In addition, basis his first assumptions of guilt around the knife. Juror number 8 requests that the knife be brought into the jury room. Juror3 “We all know what the knife looks, so why do we need to see it again. In addition, Jury member number 4 explains all the key points mentioned in 2.2.1. When the knife is brought into the Jury room. Juror4 walks around and puts the knife into the table in front of Juror8 and continues his arguments. Juror8 says it’s possible that a different knife was used. Juror3 Says “I say it’s not possible. It is then that Juror8 produces an exact copy of the knife and puts it into the table next to the other one. The Jury start to yell and are confused by this new piece of evidence being introduced, thus the creditably of the knife is lowered(2.2.2. 1) The Jury members say that it is illegal to buy the switch knife and want to know where he brought it. However in revealing where he brought the knife Juror8 indivertibly and not directly admits to breaking another law, but not directly. The jury act 1995 part 8 69A section 1 Inquiries by juror about accused prohibited stipulates that a jury member can-not inquire about the case “1A person who has been sworn as a juror in a criminal trial must not inquire about the defendant t”. As Juror8 admits buying the knife from a pawnshop in the boy’s neighbourhood, he has broken that law. With this in mind, if the court had known or was told about this, the court would have to declare a mistrial.

Many of the members disagree with the second knife being brought into the equation. Many of those members contradict themselves, “there could be 10 knives like that, and so what does that prove’. Producing the knife was the first step in convincing the other members that the accused may not have murdered his father beyond reasonable Doubt. Juror8 asks the members who have had the strongest belief that the accused in guilty whether or not it is possible that the defendant kill his father with that knife. As he is asking around the table. Juror5 admits to having some doubt “I think maybe” before being rudely cut off by Juror3.

A Secret Vote is conducted. In addition, another member changes his verdict to not guilty.

The vote is 10-2 in favour of guilty.

However, the second vote of not guilty is not Juror5 but Juror9. Before we find out who actually gave the not guilty verdict, members are accusing Juror5 and abusing him.

2. The Crate Train and the first Witnesses Statement.

The next piece of evidence to be debated and turning point is the old man’s statement.

This is very important issue, as it takes into account another piece of evidence being use that of woman across the railway tracks.

Juror9 discusses with the other jury members why the old man might not be correct. His views on the witness seem reasonable as his basis for his views come from his own life experiences. As the old man was walking to the stand, he was limping on his left leg. Portrayed an old man who has never been known, never had his name in the newspaper. How he might see this as an opportunity to have himself in the spotlight and be something for once. Would exactly lie, but make himself believe that he heard those words saw the boy run down the hall.

Another point bright forward from that if the old man had heard the words I’m going to kill you! What does that it exactly mean? How often are those words taken out of context? After this Juror5 changes his Vote to not guilty.

Verdict Count: 9-3 in favour of guilty.

3. Lawyer Court Appointed and how the accused was caught

As the movie Continues, evidence that the lawyer for the accused was court appointed. This means that the court appoints a lawyer. “It could mean that he didn’t want the case, No glory and little chance of winning.” The baseball fan (Juror7) keeps looking at the time has he has two baseball tickets.

Juror11 brings up the point about how the boy was caught, and is questioned by other jury members

1. Caught at 3.00 by police after coming back home

2. Why did he come home if he really did kill his father?

3. Wouldn’t he be afraid of being caught by the police?

4. It is assumed that he came back for the knife because he realised that people could recognise the knife. After he had run out in state of panic

5. Where did his panic start and end? Because he was smart, enough to wipe the knife clean of fingerprints.

Once the last point had been brought, forward Juror3 still continues to argue and won’t even contend that the boy is not guilty. “You can throw out all the other evidence he came home to throw out the knife and get rid of it”

Juror8 Then discusses and the point of reasonable doubt and that there is enough doubt to bring a verdict of not guilty.

The verdict count is still 9-3 but it is quite clear that Juror11 is in favour of not guilty

Juror10 then angrily yells around the room that how can both witnesses be wrong, and that the facts are being changed.

After the next vote count, it remains the same but then Juror11 Changes his vote

The Verdict Count 8-4 in favour of Guilty

4. The first witness statement

Juror7 brings forward the first witnesses statement. Were not going to believe that the old man saw the boy run down the stairs, fifteen seconds after hearing him say I’m going to kill you? This was said in a sarcastic voice.

Juror8 wants to see the layout of the room where the old man lived. This was to see if it was possible for a man, who had a stroke 12 months ago was able get out of bed and see the boy running all within the space of fifteen seconds.

After looking at the diagram and pointing out the how far the old man would have had to go to be able to see the accused run down the stairs

1. 12 feet to the bedroom door

2. 43 feet down the hall and then open the front door

3. All this within 15 seconds

The members of the jury who are still convinced say it its possible and the others say it isn’t possible for that to have occurred within the timeframe given. The old man was adamant that it was fifteen seconds.

Juror8 puts chairs around the room, and walks around the room re-enacting the old man, it takes him exactly forty two seconds. Juror8 puts forward his idea of what happen. “the old man heard the fight between the accused earlier and saw the boy leave angrily” then a couple of hours later heard the body hit the floor and the woman across the tracks scream and tried to get to the front door and heard someone running down the front stairs and assumed that it was the boy. Juror6 thinks that what Juror8 said was possible. Once that has been said Juror3 angrily directs insults to Juror8. “Everyone of you knows he’s guilty he has got to burn, let him slip through out fingers” Juror8 then replies with the words “ever since we have entered this room you have acted like a public self avenger” This gets Juror3 extremely mad, and he has to be held back by the other jury members and Yells I’m going to kill you”

Those words are very important in the context of the film, as part of the evidence was the words there were heard. It shows that those words can be used in the heat of the moment and do not actually mean what is said. This decreases the credibility of the evidence, and that there might be reasonable doubt.

Juror1 and Juror6 change their verdict to not guilty

Verdict Count 6-6

5. The hung jury debate and the boy’s alibi, and homicidal tendances

Juror10 talks to Juror2 and gets into discussion, and abuses him, and talks racially “you’re just like the other folk your age afraid of the white man”. This is where we see how racist Juror10, and the fact that he might have a personal addenda on the verdict.

In the bathroom, Juror10 discusses with Juror3 the possibility of a hung Jury. Juror3 dismisses the idea. Juror7 wants to go to the judge with the hung jury. None of the other members want to. Juror5 brings up the point “So do you think there is no possibly of doubt.” As the answer was no Juror9 says that “maybe you do-not understand the term reasonable doubt” This is where another argument is created, and racial tension flairs again

The only alibi the boy offered was that he was at the movies, but one hour afterwards couldn’t remember what he saw or any details. The boy was asked details in his apartment by police when he arrive, in the kitchen where his father’s body lay.

However in court, he remembers all the details, he was not under emotional stress at this time. Discussion between Juror4 and Juror8 continued for a while, and Juror8 put asked what the other had done the last few days. He couldn’t remember many details, thus putting the alibi theory to rest. Juror10 still doesn’t want to believe anything other than.

A member talks about the psychiatrist’s report about homicidal tendances, and how the boy grew up with murder on the mind, and how he was brought up. However, he was disputed by another member saying that while it might be on the mind it doesn’t mean that he acts it out. To say the man is cable of murder does not mean does it.

Verdict Count is still 6-6

6. Stab Wound

The boy was 5’7 and his father was 6’2 that’s 7 inches different. It is put forward that it is too awkward to stab someone downwards when you that much shorter than them. Juror3 Shows Juror8 how it is done and re-enacts it. It looked quite possible that was the way it was done. However Juror5 points out that it is a switch knife and that the way you stab isn’t downward it is upward. Those knives were not meant for downward stabbing. Everyone agrees that the boy was good with knives, so therefore it is not logical for him to stab downwards if he was good with knives. In order to stab downward you would have to change grip.

Juror12 isn’t sure of his verdict, and when Juror7 is asked he changes his vote to not guilty, at 1st it seemed like he didn’t care anymore, because his ball game was over “I had enough”, then when questioned face to face by Juror10 he said he didn’t think the boy was guilty.

Verdict 5-7 in favour of not guilty

Another vote is called for, and Juror12 and Juror1 (the foreman) change their vote to not guilty

Verdict 3-9 in favour of not guilty.

Juror9 Continues his racism taunts towards the accused. He talks to the other men who are of similar backgrounds and is told to shut up and sit down “sit down and don’t open your filthy mouth again”

Verdict 3-9 in favour of not guilty.

7. Evidence by woman, across the railway tracks

She went to bed at 11. pm and could see directly into window

About 12.10 am saw the killing of a passing crate train, and the lights went out straight afterwards, and saw the accused stab his father with a downward motion. This is the strongest piece of evidence for the case.

Another vote is called and Juror12 changes his vote back to guilty,

Verdict 4-9 in favour of guilty

Juror3 wants to have a hung jury. The idea is dismissed. A time Limit is talked about and 7 pm is mentioned by Juror4 who rubs above his nose. The rubbing of the eyes is quite significant. It is alleged that the woman across the railway track did the gesture in court. It is said put forward that Juror4 rubs above his eyes because of his “eye glasses” which cause the two marks on the nose. It is then explained that the woman had the same features.

The woman in question tried to look younger by the way she dressed, and how she wore her make-up. It was then said that she never wore the glasses outside the house because she would have been ashamed to.

Thus the creditably of her statement is in doubt, because she wore glasses and it would have been near impossible to see 60 feet and get a distinctive look.

Juror3 still dismisses the idea that the boy may not have committed the murder

Juror12 is asked again, and he changes his verdict to not guilty

When Juror10 is asked to give his verdict his response was “yes I think he is guilty but I couldn’t care less, you smart basta...s do whatever you want. I vote not guilty do whatever you want”

Juror4 now has reasonable doubt and changes his vote to not guilty

Verdict 1-11 in favour of not guilty

8. Reasoning with Juror3

This is where; we find out that Juror3 has a personal vendetta. His son treated him the same way but didn’t exactly kill him allegedly like the accused and when they had an argument, his child responded in hitting him. This put a personal vendetta on sons attacking their parents. Within the trial, he made himself believe it was his son on trial.

Juror8 ended up putting helping Juror3 put his jacket on.

Verdict 12-0 in favour of not guilty

2.4 4 Character Analysis

2.4.1 Juror8

This juror member is relatively old, and is the first member to vote not guilty. At no-stage throughout the movie, did he say the boy didn’t do it, he just wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to put a young adult on death row. When first asked why he was voting not guilty and whether or not he thought the boy committed the murder was “I don’t know” but it doesn’t seem right to me”. He was very observant throughout the trial and through the verdict sitting. Every time a point was brought up about the evidence, he disputed it, and gave reasonable doubt for each piece of evidence as mentioned above in 2.2-2.3. He was confident, which lead him to make reasonable but not unfair assumptions about the evidence. He had children of his. Was very caring, and understanding of the accused. His actions saved the accused life. He had reasonable doubt about the evidence, and followed the law in giving his verdict. He however did break the law on 2 occasions, the first being when he walked around the accused neighbourhood and making general inquires about the case. The second, buying a switch knife blade. The latter was very important because it was the start of the evidence, and started putting reasonable doubt in the other juror members. He had good debating skills.

He was very relaxed throughout sitting.

He wore a grey suit with a white shirt. Tie was black with white triangles.

2.4.2 Juror 9

This juror member was the oldest, and most fragile. He was very weak in his arguments, although he had good points, members of the jury didn’t like to listen to his point of view until the very end of the deliberations. He was a good observer. This was evident in 2.3.7. in regards to picking up on the fact the witness wore glasses, but never wore them outside of the house He had life experiences that he could relate to one of the witnesses. Didn’t stand up for himself when he was told what to you, he just went quiet. Quite frail and used a walking stick, and walked very slowly. He was the last one to sit down to start proceedings. He has 20/20 vision and has never worn glasses. He had grey receding hairline.

2.4.3 Juror 7

This jury member was a huge sports fan. Had tickets to a baseball game, which started at 8.00 pm and was very uptight about having to sit around and argue a point he didn’t originally agree with. He never took the case seriously, and was very sarcastic towards other members’ comments and contributions. He made jokes about everything, and it usually had something to do with sport. He put down and made fun of the other members of the jury who didn’t share the same opinion as himself. He didn’t change his vote to not guilty until he had actually missed the baseball start time. It was then that he lost interest in contesting the verdict and put the not guilty verdict.

He was very racist towards people from a European background and aggressive towards them when they confronted or corrected him. This was evident when juror 11 confronted him. He dressed very casually compared to the other members of the jury room. He didn’t wear a collared shirt or tie. This in fact shows his lack care towards the other people. When he entered the courtroom, the first thing he cared about was the baseball game. Nothing more. Always kept looking the time. When he realised that people were voting against his verdict, and it was 6 to 6, he wanted to go to the judge has a hung jury, even though they had only been in the courtroom for a matter of hours.

2.4.4 Juror 6

He was wearing a green shirt. Thorough out the deliberations, it was apparent that he felt sorry for the accused, and he always felt locked inside and felt an outcast. This was evident when he asked about the jury room door being locked. He grew up on the same part of town as the accused, and felt embarrassed and reserved about his way of living in the early days. It was evident that he was emotionally scared from his childhood and living like the accused was. “I grew up in those slumps, and the garbage, maybe it still smells on me too”. Thought most of the movie he was very quiet though, unless he actually had something to say. He was very reflective of the whole trial. He had a hard life,

3. The Jury System

3.1 Brief Description on Jury System

The Jury System in Australia varies from state to state, but most have the same foundation. Twelve Citizens from each respective state are chosen to decide whether another citizen, (who is currently undergoing a trial before the Court), is guilty or innocent of a crime in a court of competent jurisdiction. For the jury to be present in a court room there must be a trial, where an accused has pleaded not-guilty in a preliminary hearing.

A jury consists of twelve Members. These 12 members come from a variety of age groups and races, but in some cases, other than murder there may only be 4-6 jury members. A jury is formed from the community. A selection process is made whereby persons who are listed on the electoral roll are randomly sent letters requesting their attendance before court.

For the jury to reach a verdict, they must reach a unanimous decision, such as in the movie “Twelve Angry Men”. However, in some states such as Victoria, it is acceptable for the Decision to be a majority, 10-2. In New South Wales, it is 11-1.

Once the prosecutor and defense lawyers have put forward evidence for and against the defendant and outlines reasons why a Guilty or Not Guilty verdict should be given, it is the defense lawyer’s job to maintain a reasonable doubt to guilt.

Alternatively, the Prosecutor needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the mentioned crime. If there is any reasonable doubt, the jury must find the defendant not guilty.

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