Although there were only two eyewitness accounts, this movie shows how strong the power of eyewitness testimony can be in court. In addition to the power of eyewitness accounts, this movie displays a great example of group polarization—the process by which the public opinion divides and goes to different extremes. When looking at jurors, a group of individuals, when they are alone and are thinking about the case, may be undecided, become fiercely opinionated once they enter the deliberation room.
In this version of the movie, interestingly, Juror #10, played by Mykelti Williamson, a black actor, goes on a racist tyrannical rant about how Hispanics are “born to lie, they are crack heads” and are “multiplying like rabbits” He believes that they are second- class citizens and don’t deserve to be in society. He believes that they are killers by nature and are trying to take over. The eyewitness testimony is profoundly affected by the complex personalities of the jury.
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For example, Juror #3, the very last man standing, is hung on the words “I’m going to kill you” being said to the boy’s own father and takes on the pain of the murder as his own. He wants the boy to pay for what he did, as he believes that the boy is guilty based on the eyewitness testimony. He has a hard time accepting the reasonable doubt and is the very last one to do so at the close of the movie.
Juror #4 is also committed to the eyewitness testimony of the old man hearing the woman screaming and hearing a body fall on the floor, walking from his bedroom to the front door of his apartment and seeing the boy running down the front stairs. Through much argument and questions and experiments performed by juror #8, the men eventually realized that the eyewitnesses were not as reliable as they originally thought. The female eyewitness testified that she saw the boy stab his father with the knife while from her bed.
However, Juror #9, upon observing the glasses marks on Juror #4’s nose, recalled that the eyewitness wore glasses. Therefore, it was impossible that she could have seen the stabbing in clear detail, and most likely just saw a blurry incident and came to her own assumption that it was the boy. In this movie, the “Reasonable Person” standard appears in the jury’s discussions. in the form of, how a reasonable person would react if they were confronted with a specific scenario that may pose a threat or harm to themselves or someone close to them.
I think the 1997 version of the movie did a better job at conveying the close proximity that the group came to “groupthink,” the psychological event which can occur when a group of people all wanting harmony and to go without conflict, agree on a decision as a group without much deep thought or debate on a topic as to not upset anyone. Again, the 1997 version of this film did a better job of displaying various cultures and races. There were blacks, whites and other religions all on this jury. The black Islamic, was the most opinionated on the Hispanic boy surprisingly.
I found it ironic that he kept addressing the other black men as his brothers one minute and was insulting them the next. I thought this was a great assignment. I had not seen this movie in years. It was great watching it again. I had not watched this newer version and have always wanted to. 12 Angry Men is a classic movie about eleven male jurors who upon the end of a weeks worth of court, debate over a young man’s fate and whether they are going to convict a young man of stabbing and killing his own father.
Initially, the men are decisive on sending the boy to the death chamber relying solely on the testimony given by the two eyewitnesses. Despite Juror #8 raising questions about the reliability of the eyewitnesses testimonies, the majority of the jurors stick by their guilty votes. Juror #8 maintains his not guilty verdict and through the film, continues to raise questions and shows the jurors where there are areas that raise doubt.
Although there were only two eyewitness accounts, this movie shows how strong the power of eyewitness testimony can be in court. References: Group polarization & how it impacts your verdict. (2011, August 25). Retrieved from http://jurorproof. com/2011/08/25/group-polarization-how-it-impacts-your-verdict/ Internet movie database (imbd) [0 series episode]. Retrieved from http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0118528/ Sunstein, C. (2000, October 4). Deliberative trouble? why groups go to extremes.