Court System in 12 Angry Men

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The movie that I chose was 12 Angry Men, which is a movie where twelve jurors are in a room and have to decide if an eighteen-year-old kid is guilty of murder. While they were in the room the first thing that they did was take a vote to see if an eighteen-year-old was guilty. There were eleven votes that said that he was guilty and there was one man that voted him not guilty. After the vote they decided that there should be an hour talk to try to convince the one juror who thought that the eighteen-year-old was not guilty. They all went around and talked about why each juror thought the kid was guilty.  As the movie goes on there are more and more people are convinced by the evidence that the eighteen-year-old was not guilty.

Towards the end of the movie there is one man that does not want to give up and say that the boy is not guilty, but eventually breaks and says that the eighteen-year-old is not guilt. This ultimately ended up saving the boy’s life from execution. The reason that I chose to view this movie was because I had heard very good things about it, and it was a movie that showed exactly what I was looking for when it came to me writing this essay. I wanted to find something to watch that showed a jury, so that I could really focus on that specific part of the court system.

My overall impression of this movie was that it was very interesting for it being so old and a movie about twelve men in a jury room deciding if a man should be killed. It was a black and white movie, so it was very different to see how things have changed over the years. For me I did not know if it was going to keep my interest throughout the whole movie, but I found myself sitting there waiting to see what would happen next with the jurors. I do think that there were some parts of the movie that were very accurate when it comes to a jury, but I also think that there were some parts that I feel like would not happen most of the time.

When it comes to the men first coming together and taking a vote on if they thought that the man was guilty or not, I do think that it usually happens that way. Also when it came to the men having to sit there and talk it over after there not being a unanimous vote that the man was guilt happen in real life as well. I also think that they did a good job of showing how much detail goes into making sure that all of the detail is found because one person had doubt. Some things that I think are not completely accurate are that the other eleven jurors were very quick to judge that the kid committed the crime. I also do not think that the jurors are able to argue and fight like they did in the movie.

In the movie the jurors talked about the possibility of becoming a hung jury. A hung jury is “when jurors cannot agree on a verdict” (Bohm & Haley, 2018, p. 312), which happened in the movie when the one juror was not agreeing with the other eleven. They were saying they did not want it to become a hung jury, so they decided to try to convince the one man that thought the kid was not guilty to switch to think he was guilty. A jury does not always have to come to a unanimous verdict, but “Judges hate hung juries. Not only do they fail to produce a decisive trial outcome” (Bohm & Haley, 2018, p. 312) and they “are a huge waste of time and money for all parties” (Bohm & Haley, 2018, p. 312), so a hung jury is not something that people want to have as an outcome.

Another thing that happened in the movie was that all of the jurors were very hostile and were on the verge of fighting each other. This was because not everyone agreed on the fact that the eighteen-year-old was not guilty. To me it seems like most of the men who first accused the boy of being guilty seemed to not care that he was going to get the death sentence. The point of having a jury is to “protect citizens from unfounded charges” (Bohm & Haley, 2018, p. 316), which eleven of the twelve men were not doing in this case. They were given the duty to make sure than the decision that they were making to put the eighteen-year-old to death was the right thing to do after listening to the trial and examining all of the evidence. When the jurors were talking about the evidence, which was the knife, they wanted to see it for themselves. They were able to get the knife that was used to kill the older man, but once they got it, they tried to reenact the way that the man was stabbed.

This was a vital part of the movie because when they positioned themselves with the knife the way that the man died it proved that the knife could not have been the murder weapon. When it comes to evidence there are two systems, the adversarial and the inquisitorial. The two different systems have different ways that they look at the evidence, so “judges in adversarial systems only search for the formal truth or legal guilt” (Bohm & Haley, 2018, p. 315) and “judges in inquisitorial systems search for the material truth or factual guilt” (Bohm & Haley, 2018, p. 315). It depends on the system that the trial is in, but in either system the evidence is not being used in the way that the jury in this movie did.

My understanding of court or court personnel has changed because I did not know that there were so many parts that went into the court system, it is like a very intricate puzzle. The most that I learned about was the jury since I did the most reading on it. I did not know that there were two different types of juries, the grand jury and the trial jury. I thought that for each trial there was a basic jury, so I was surprised to learn the difference between the two. I also did not know that there are two systems of evidence that is used with trials. I just thought that any evidence was able to be looked at or examined at any time, so when the textbook said that there were different rules for the systems about evidence it was something I never knew before. The last thing that I learned was that there was a specific name when a jury could not come to a conclusion. I knew that a jury had the possibility of not coming to a final verdict if the person on trial was guilty or not guilty, but I did not know that there was a specific name. There was a lot that I learned from both the move and reading the chapters for courts that I did not know before.

Works Cited:

  1. Bohm, R. M., & Haley, K. N. (2018). Introduction to criminal justice. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Cite this paper

Court System in 12 Angry Men. (2021, Jan 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/court-system-in-12-angry-men/



How is justice shown in the 12 Angry Men?
Justice is shown in 12 Angry Men by highlighting the importance of considering all evidence and perspectives before making a decision. The film also emphasizes the responsibility of jurors to ensure that justice is served, even if it means going against popular opinion.
What does the jury room represent in 12 Angry Men?
The jury room is a place where the 12 men can discuss the case openly and honestly without outside influence. It is a place where they can come to a fair and just decision.
What flaws in the US justice system does 12 Angry Men expose?
The film exposes the flaws of prejudice, racism, and lack of evidence in the US justice system.
What is the charge against the defendant in 12 Angry Men?
The white boy was not a team player and was disruptive to the team's chemistry.
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