12 Angry Men: Summary

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The movie “12 Angry Men” focuses on a jury's deliberations in a capital murder case. The jury is sent to begin deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of an 18-year-old boy from the slums accused of stabbing and killing his father. If the boy is found guilty, he will be sentenced to death by electrocution. The case appears to be open and shut. The defendant has a weak alibi. A knife he claimed to have lost is the murder weapon found at the scene. Also, he claimed to be at the movies, but couldn’t recall what movies he’d seen or the actors who played in them. There were several witnesses who either heard screaming, saw the boy fleeing the scene, or witnessed the killing. Eleven of the jurors immediately cast guilty in a preliminary vote; only Juror No. 8, Mr. Davis, casts a not guilty vote. At first Mr. Davis' bases his vote on the need to simply discuss the case further. He feels that they should take their time and discuss the case since a young boy’s life is at stake. All jurors must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty before hastily making a decision. As the deliberations begin, the story quickly becomes a study of the jurors' personalities, ranging from quiet and shy to arrogant and merciless. In the end, Mr. Davis provides enough reasonable doubt to all the evidence provided to convince the eleven jurors that a verdict of not guilty should be given to the defendant.

One of the first concepts to be seen in the film was process loss in group decisions.   The group of men was following the leadership of the head juror; although he was not the most qualified member of the group he was in charge of explaining the duties to the others.   His directions were not explicit. Instead of setting ground rules, he asked the group how they’d like to proceed. One of the jurors suggested that a preliminary vote was customary. As the head juror, it was his responsibility to have an idea of how to proceed in starting the...
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