Twelve Angry Men, by the American playwright Reginald Rose, was originally written for television, and it was broadcast live on CBS's show Studio One in 1954. The fifty-minute television script can be found in Rose's Six Television Plays, published in 1956 (out of print in 2005). Rose expanded the play for the stage, and a new version was published in 1955 (Dramatic Publishing Company; in print). Two years later, in 1957, Rose wrote the screenplay for a film version, which he co-produced with the actor Henry Fonda. The play has subsequently been updated and revived; for example, in a production at the American Airlines Theater in New York City in 2004.
The play was inspired by Rose's own experience of jury duty on a manslaughter case in New York City. At first, he had been reluctant to serve on a jury, but, he wrote, "the moment I walked into the courtroom … and found myself facing a strange man whose fate was suddenly more or less in my hands, my entire attitude changed." Rose was greatly impressed by the gravity of the situation, the somber activity of the court, and the "absolute finality" of the decision that he and his fellow jurors would have to make. He also thought that since no one other than the jurors had any idea of what went on in a jury room, "a play taking place entirely within a jury room might be an exciting and possibly moving experience for an audience" ("Author's Commentary" on Twelve Angry Men in Six Television Plays). The result is a taut, engrossing drama in which eleven jurors believe the defendant in a capital murder trial is guilty, while one juror stands up courageously for what he believes is justice and tries to persuade the others to his way of thinking.
"Those who wrote our constitutions knew from history and experience that it was necessary to protect against unfounded criminal charges brought to eliminate enemies and against judges too responsive to the voice of higher authority. ….Providing an accused with the right to be tried by a jury of his peers gave him an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge."
— The Supreme Court of the United States, Duncan v. Louisiana (1968)
Twelve Angry Men, originally written for television by Reginald Rose in 1954 and subsequently adapted for stage (1955), film (1957) and television again (1997), effectively conveys the central importance of the right to a jury trial afforded by Article III of the Constitution as well as Amendments V, VI, and XIV.
Focusing on the right to a trial by "an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed," the play/film also addresses related constitutional provisions, including the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to counsel. More broadly, the play/film embodies the central insight of Alexis De Tocqueville in his classic work Democracy in America, that the jury system is one of the most important political institutions for democratic self government. It educates citizens about the law and legal process, helps them understand their duties as citizens and in the best case, improves their deliberations as citizens.
The Basics Of The Case
At the beginning of Twelve Angry Men, the jury has just finished listening to six days of trial proceedings. A nineteen-year old man is on trial for the murder of his father. The defendant has a criminal record (and a lot of circumstantial evidence piled against him). The defendant, if found guilty, would receive a mandatory death penalty.
The jury is sent to a hot, crowded room to deliberate. Before any formal discussion, they cast a vote. Eleven of the jurors vote “guilty.” Only one juror votes “not guilty.” That juror, who is known in the script as Juror #8, is the protagonist of the play. As the tempers flare and the arguments begin, the audience learns about each member of the jury. And slowly but surely, Juror #8 attempts to guide the others toward a verdict of “Not Guilty.” Will he succeed?
Quick Write: In your Spiral Notebook, write about a time in your life when you have felt like justice was not fair.
After reading the article: In your Spiral Notebook, write a 1-page reflection citing the author’s claim, support for the claim, and if you think he/she made their case.
Use the sentence frames below to help you.
Essential Questions Group Work
You will be working with a group to answer the following Essential Questions. Look at the images below to help get you thinking. 1. I will assign your group with one of the questions. 2. Write your group's Essential Question and your answer in your Spiral Notebook. 3. Group Discussion: Every member of your group will share their answer and your group will have a discussion. 4. Poster Work: You will write your group's answer on the "Before Unit" section of the poster. (If you can't decide on one answer, you may write the answers your group thinks are the most important.) 5. Your group will decide what your question "Looks Like." Come up with a way to illustrate the answer to the question.
1. How does literature educate us?
2. What is justice?
3. What are the causes and consequences of prejudice and injustice, and how does an individual’s response to them reveal his/her true character?
4. When should an individual take a stand against what he/she believes to be an injustice? What are the most effective ways to do this?
5. What is the relationship between social class and equity?
Article: How Far Should Juvenile Sentencing Go? Worth: 100 Points
Click on the button below to access the article about the sentencing that juveniles receive in court cases. Complete in your Spiral Notebook.
1. Read through the article with your table group and take notes on the 5 sections of the article. 2. As a group discuss the 4 questions at the bottom of the article. 3. Write a response in which you support your opinion about what you read in the article. Use the Paragraph Frame below if your need help.
I will give you a hard copy of the Jury Service Quiz. You will decide if the statements are True or False before we watch the video on Jury Duty. After the video, you will go back and decide if you still agree with your initial response.
We will watch a video that explains what Jury Duty is and what a person does if they are chosen to sit on a jury.
Jury Duty Scavenger Hunt
As I'm sure you realized, not all the statements on your Jury Duty Quiz were answered on the video. Your job now is to work with your table group and use the website link on the button below to find the answers that were not mentioned on the video. You will have to click on various areas of the website to find all your answers.
Judicial System Web Quest Write your answers to the questions in your Spiral Notebook
Answer the following questions
using the websites provided:
You will have to navigate through the website to find the answers to the questions. Use the sidebar labeled "Activity Resources".
For questions 1-3, use the following website:
1. Summarize the case. 2. Summarize the 3 Talking
Points, ( For each of the 3 Talking Points, there will be two sides to the issue) and explain if you agree or disagree with the rulings. 3. Answer the 3 Discussion
Using the chart; please name two similarities and two differences between the
structure of the Federal Courts and the State Courts.
5. How are Judges selected for
the Federal Court system?
6. How are Judges selected for
the State Court System?
7. Name two types of cases
heard at the Federal Courts 8. Name two types of cases
heard at the State courts.
9. In 3-5 sentences explain
Judiciary Act of 1789. (Why was it established?) (What did the act do?) 10. The Supreme Court first assembled on what date and where? 11. The number of Justices has
changed _______ times before settings at the present total of 9 in 1869.
How many Chief Justices have we had since the creation of the court? ____
How many Associate Justices? _____
Now that you have completed the Web Quest, I want you to reflect back on what you read for this assignment. Write a multi-sentence reflection describing what you learned from completing this Web Quest and why you think what you learned is important to you.
Complete this assignment in your Spiral Notebook (We will complete a 4 Corner Activity for this?)
Mock Jury Deliberations
I will divide the class into groups of twelve students. The groups will spend the class deliberating and trying to reach a unanimous “verdict” regarding various factual scenarios. I will circulate among the groups and foster discussion regarding various aspects of the factual scenarios. As your group is making a decision think about the following:
Discussion Points:Take notes in your Spiral Notebook on each of the 4 points below. You will do this for every Scenario. Total Points: 80 Points
1. What “side” do you believe and why? 5 Points
2. Do any other members of the group disagree and why. 5 Points
3. Have you or family or friends have ever been in similar situations and what happened. 5 Points
4. How do your personal experiences affect how you feel about the case. 5 Points For example: A student whose family owns a store may have strong feelings about the shoplifting scenario. You should also be aware of whether and how members of the group have to compromise in order to reach a unanimous verdict.
(1) Criminal: John is accused of throwing a rock through his neighbors’, the Smiths, living room window one night. Mrs. Smith claims that she looked out the window when the rock was thrown and saw John hiding behind a tree in the Smith’s front yard. A street light provided adequate lighting for her to see John, and she was wearing her glasses. Mrs. Smith admits that she has never liked having John as a neighbor. It cost the Smiths $300 to replace the window. John claims that at the time the rock was thrown, he was at his friend Joe’s house for dinner. Joe confirms that alibi. John also claims that Mrs. Smith rarely comes out of her house and doesn’t even know who John is. The punishment for the vandalism is a fine. Is John guilty? If the judge asked you, how much should he pay?
(2) Civil: Roger's dog bit Joe’s finger, and Joe had to go to the emergency room, incurring a bill of $300. Joe sues Roger for $3,000 to cover his “pain and suffering” and the emergency room bill. Roger claims that his dog has never bitten anyone before. Roger thinks that Joe was teasing the dog, and Roger doesn’t think he should pay a dime. Should Roger pay anything? How much?
(3) Criminal: Sue is accused of shoplifting. The store security officer saw her try on several scarves and then try to leave the store with one wrapped around her neck. When the officer attempted to stop her, she walked quickly out of the store, wearing the scarf that was priced at $100. Sue says that she usually wears scarves, forgot to put one on that morning, and decided to stop at a store to buy one. She tried several on at the same time and did not like any of them. She claims she did not notice that she had left one of the scarves around her neck, and she hurried out of the store because she was late for work. When the security guard stopped her, she tried to explain, but he would not listen to her. The punishment for the shoplifting charge is a fine. Is Sue guilty? If the judge asked you, how much should she pay?
(4) Civil: Mary agreed to shovel two of her neighbors’ driveways for the winter. She charged $200 for the season and was entitled to keep the money no matter how much snow fell. It never snowed during the winter, so Mary gave $50 back to one of the neighbors. The other neighbor found out that Mary returned money, and is suing Mary to make her pay back the $200. Should Mary pay anything back? How much?
Once your group has decided on a verdict; I want you to complete the Polls below.