Place: New York City Courtroom
Case: An African-American teenager has been accused of murdering his father.
On April 14th, 1951, Reginald Rose, a thirty-one-year-old army veteran published his second, and most prominent dramatic work entitled Twelve Angry Men. This play is now admired as a momentous, eloquent and critical examination of the United States jury system. Twelve Angry Men examines key courtroom themes including civil duty and reasonable doubt. Through the voice of these twelve men, the audience must ask themselves imperative questions regarding the American court system, moral responsibility and the role of emotions in a verdict. The selection of jurors is indeed a very complicated process. First, a list of all the registered voters living in the jurisdiction of the court is created. Based on this list, the state narrows the potential jury pool down based on job, income, family, and any other substantive information that could create bias towards a certain case. Official letters are then sent out to the remaining candidates, and they are asked to report to the courthouse for their summoning. Attorneys on each side question potential jurors in a process called voir dire meaning, “to speak the truth.” Through this procedure, an attorney can dispute a prospective juror for cause if that potential juror says or expresses any bias against the attorney’s case. Also, each attorney can implement a restricted number of peremptory disputes in which a juror is dismissed with no explanation required. “Traditionally, American attorneys have had much latitude in conducting voir dire. The power to challenge – and the discretion to use it – is very important in our adversary system of justice; each attorney works for a jury most sympathetic to their side. Like all powers, this one has been subject to misuse and even abuse. As American society has evolved, so too has voir dire” (Keeler 14). After this process is completed,...
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