Remember the 1957 movie, 12 Angry Men? An innocent man was almost found guilty of murder by 11 impatient jurors who just wanted to get home. That man’s life was on the line. One juror, played by Henry Fonda, stood strong and thought things through. He convinced the other jurors of the reasonable doubt and an innocent man went free.
What would have happened if those 12 jurors had decided to stay home or just go to work as normal? What if it had been Fonda’s character who stayed home? Perhaps, an innocent man would have been convicted of a murder he did not commit.
12 Angry Men jury instructions:
“To continue, you’ve listened to a long and complex case, murder in the first degree. Premeditated murder is the most serious charge tried in our criminal courts. You’ve listened to the testimony, you’ve had the law read to you and interpreted as it applies in this case, it’s now your duty to sit down and try to separate the facts from the fancy. One man is dead, another man’s life is at stake, if there’s a reasonable doubt in your minds as to the guilt of the accused, a reasonable doubt, then you must bring me a verdict of “Not Guilty”. If, however, there’s no reasonable doubt, then you must, in good conscience, find the accused “Guilty”. However you decide, your verdict must be unanimous. In the event that you find the accused “Guilty”, the bench will not entertain a recommendation for mercy. The death sentence is mandatory in this case. You’re faced with a grave responsibility, thank you, gentlemen.”
While the American jury system is not perfect, it is the best we’ve got. Serving as a juror when called is a civic responsibility that best ensures fair justice. If you are ever in need of a jury, you’ll be ever so grateful that those 12 people took time out of their busy lives to help you.
Our San Diego personal injury attorney thanks all who serve as jurors.