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Old March 13 2012, 05:26 AM   #1
Vanyel
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12 Angry Men

I love this movie, and recently got to see it again.

There is just one thing that keeps bugging me Henry Fonda's Juror Number 8 (Davis) goes out a finds a duplicate of the knife brought into evidence. He searched for it and found it and brought it in as evidence that there are indeed other knives like the one the accused had and that was used in the murder.

Wouldn't this be Jury Tampering or some other way for the Prosecution to get a mistrial declared and retry the kid?
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Old March 13 2012, 05:28 AM   #2
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Jury tampering? No, I don't think so. That would apply if somebody else tried to influence the jury, but AFAIK this would fall under the jury members' own deliberations amongst themselves. Juror #8 had a theory that the knife was a common design, and he brought in another knife to corroborate his own theory. I don't see a problem with this, as such.

Although there probably would be a prohibition against bringing any kind of weapon into the court building. But that's a different issue.
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Old March 13 2012, 06:05 AM   #3
Vanyel
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Jury tampering? No, I don't think so. That would apply if somebody else tried to influence the jury, but AFAIK this would fall under the jury members' own deliberations amongst themselves. Juror #8 had a theory that the knife was a common design, and he brought in another knife to corroborate his own theory. I don't see a problem with this, as such.

Although there probably would be a prohibition against bringing any kind of weapon into the court building. But that's a different issue.
I'm just thinking the jury can only consider the evidence presented. By doing his own investigation he brought in something not brought into evidence by the defense. It's not the jury's job to look for evidence but to come to a verdict based on the evidence presented them. I'm thinking if I'm that prosecutor, I'm going for a mistrial.
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Old March 13 2012, 06:10 AM   #4
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Re: 12 Angry Men

You are right. But what if it had been something he had carried on him all the time? I think that would been a legitimate item for deliberation.

The marks on the witness' nose which suggest they were not wearing glasses was not suggested by the defense either.
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Old March 13 2012, 07:17 AM   #5
Vanyel
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Re: 12 Angry Men

True, but she was brought in as a witness, that leaves her open for debate. They could have debated the kind of shoes he wore if they wanted to. But they couldn't bring in another lady and use her to debate evidence.
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Old March 13 2012, 09:02 AM   #6
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Re: 12 Angry Men

I just bought the Criterion Blu Ray of this; it looks as good as it ever has in HD. I haven't gotten around to seeing the original television version of it yet, which is also on the disc, but it looks interesting. Apparently, the ending there was more ambiguous as to whether or not the jury would be hung or not.
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Old March 13 2012, 09:50 AM   #7
Roger Wilco
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Yeah, in fact it's #2 on this list of most illegal court rulings in movies.

Still a great movie though.
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Old March 13 2012, 03:48 PM   #8
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Donald Draper wrote: View Post
You are right. But what if it had been something he had carried on him all the time? I think that would been a legitimate item for deliberation.
No, it wouldn't. Jurors are required to base their conclusions only on the evidence and testimony presented in court (and only if it isn't overruled). They can question the veracity of that evidence and testimony, but it's not their place to introduce their own.

12 Angry Men is a great play and movie, but it takes huge liberties with courtroom/legal procedure. One could argue that it happened the way it did because the defense failed to do its job, so Juror #8 had to do it for them. But that was still improper. Maybe it could've led to a mistrial and gotten the defendant a new trial with a better lawyer, but who knows?
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Old March 13 2012, 05:15 PM   #9
Dick Whitman
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Re: 12 Angry Men

I was thinking about this since my last post. Unless one of the jurors would report on an event like this, how would anyone outside the jury know? Stuff like this could happen more than we would hope. Deliberations can not be recorded and monitored right?
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Old March 13 2012, 06:09 PM   #10
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Donald Draper wrote: View Post
I was thinking about this since my last post. Unless one of the jurors would report on an event like this, how would anyone outside the jury know? Stuff like this could happen more than we would hope. Deliberations can not be recorded and monitored right?
If that's so, it raises an interesting subject for an ethics debate: was it right for the jurors to subvert the law as they did to compensate for the defense's failure to do its job? Basically to practice vigilante justice, albeit a more sedate version than the kind practiced by Daredevil or Batman? Or were they just compounding the existing corruption and breakdown of their city's judicial system?
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Old March 13 2012, 07:34 PM   #11
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Re: 12 Angry Men

^I guess how much it bothers you depends on how you view this film--do you see it as a legal drama, or as a morality play? I see it as the latter. The legal backdrop is just incidental. It's about the personalities of the people involved and will they/can they do the right thing. It opens all kinds of questions about bias, justice, and responsibility.
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Old March 13 2012, 08:16 PM   #12
Dick Whitman
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Too be clear, I am not supporting a juror subverting the law. I am no legal expert. I have see this film a number of times and never really thought of this before. Ultimately our jury system must be based on the Honor System.
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Old March 13 2012, 08:27 PM   #13
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Well, we are talking about a work of fiction here, of course. So that's a given. Naturally the ethical question I proposed is for hypothetical discussion.
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Old March 13 2012, 08:34 PM   #14
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Re: 12 Angry Men

Christopher wrote: View Post
If that's so, it raises an interesting subject for an ethics debate: was it right for the jurors to subvert the law as they did to compensate for the defense's failure to do its job? Basically to practice vigilante justice, albeit a more sedate version than the kind practiced by Daredevil or Batman?
It appears Juror #8 had enough time to prepare.
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Old March 13 2012, 10:25 PM   #15
Ometiklan
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Re: 12 Angry Men

From my experience in juries, I would agree with the poster that said juror #8 could introduce the knife if he carried it all the time (or already owned it or knew of it). That is no different that a doctor juror saying "X testimony was incorrect because of Y and Z i learned in med school".

Now going out and finding a knife is a different matter. I don't remember the exact circumstances of Fonda's introduction of the knife, but I would bet the judge in a real court would have instructed them not to do their own research and even if he didn't in this case, it isn't up to the jury to do that.
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