To what extent is reasonable doubt an effective safeguard in the jury system?

Topics: Jury, Jury trial, Verdict Pages: 2 (721 words) Published: October 4, 2013
To what extent is reasonable doubt an effective safeguard in the jury system? In the play, Twelve Angry Men Reginald Rose depicts ‘reasonable doubt’ as an extremely effective defence in the jury system which leads to saving the accused from being sentenced. In the play the jurors are asked to determine whether the seventeen year old boy is ‘guilty’ of fatally stabbing his father beyond ‘reasonable doubt’ or not. Only Juror 8 plays a pivotal part in acquainting the other eleven jurors about ‘reasonable doubt’ and through negotiations they are able to bring it in all the testimonies and evidences presented by the prosecution. Eventually ‘reasonable doubt’ leads all the other eleven jurors to abandon all the doubtful proofs in favour of the boy and give the ‘not guilty’ decision. Throughout the play from the starting juror 8 is the only one who votes ‘not guilty’ as he says, ‘It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.’ This clearly tells us that he had gone through all the evidences and found them to be lacking whereas all the other eleven jurors had assumed that this was an ‘open and shut case’ without thinking of any other chances. This is obvious when he says towards the end of the play, ‘….we have a reasonable doubt, and this is a safeguard which has enormous value in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s sure.’ These words of juror 8 have a tremendous influence on the other jurors to vote unanimously ‘not guilty’ in favour of the boy. After very prolonged discussions and re-enactments the evidences given by the old man living downstairs and the woman across the alleyway who claimed to have seen the boy stabbing his father when an el train was passing by are considered as bizarre and doubtful. The old man’s claim was rejected because according to him it took only fifteen seconds for him to reach his front door from his bedroom. In the re- enactment, both jurors 2 and 8 showed that it was...
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