The 8th juror states that he cannot send a boy to die without “talking about it first”. (7/12) He questions whether or not the boy is automatically guilty just because the “slums are breeding grounds for criminals”.
He prioritises the concept of reasonable doubt and reminds the jurors that the “burden of proof is on the prosecution”.
According to the 8th juror, the man had a stroke so it would have taken a minimum of 42 seconds to get to the door. This proves that he simply “assumed it was the boy” (36). Evidently, he believes that the old man sought attention. “That’s a very sad thing, to be nothing”.
Rose positions the 8th juror as a spokesperson for justice. He becomes a constant reminder that the responsibility of the jurors is to abide by the Constitution. This states that everyone is entitled to a fair and just trial.
The 8th juror knows that they must eliminate (remove) any doubt if they are to sentence the young boy to death for the murder of his father. (23)
- Conscience: The 8th juror believes that the boy has the right to a fair trial, even though he comes from a deprived and possibly violent background. As a man of conscience, he admits that he cannot send a boy to die without “talking about it first” (7/12)
- Constitution: He is a spokesperson for justice and becomes a constant reminder that the onus/responsibility is on the prosecution to prove guilt – not the defendant. This is laid down in the constitution (9/14).
- Compassion: He shows a more forgiving, compassionate and sympathetic attitude to the young boy. He points out that he has had a miserable life (8… 12..) He does not automatically dismiss the boy or become angry towards him just because of his poverty-stricken circumstances and his dysfunctional family.
- Doubt: (how and why does he win?) He is of the view that if there is a degree of reasonable doubt concerning the evidence, then they cannot convict the boy of murder.
His point of view wins because he shows the jury members that there is a degree of doubt concerning the evidence. This affects the other jurors who begin to question the evidence and interrogate their biases.
- Rose suggests that some of the jurors have manipulated the idea of justice, because of their biases … According to the Constitution, the jurors should presume that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. (23) He reminds them that the “burden of proof is on the constitution”.
Because the 8th juror wants to “talk” about the facts, he questions the evidence. He exposes the inconsistencies and false assumptions associated with the evidence presented by the eye-witnesses. He believes that they, too, are influenced by their personal agendas.
He also believes that the jury members are quick to believe “fancy” because of their own personal biases.
The 8th jury points out the inconsistencies in the evidence. He believes that the old man and woman assumed it was the boy. The jurors cannot send a boy to die based on the “facts” that contain possibly faulty assumptions.
Contradictory evidence: testing the evidence of the eye-witnesses.
- Firstly, he proves beyond reasonable doubt that the old man only assumed that it was the boy. The fact is that he could not possibly have walked from the bed to the front door in 15 seconds to see the boy escaping down the stairs. The man had a stroke so it would have taken a minimum of 42 seconds to get to the door. This proves that he simply “assumed it was the boy” (36). Evidently, he believes that the old man sought attention. “That’s a very sad thing, to be nothing”.
- Also, he proves that the woman also assumed it was the boy. The woman in the apartment opposite testifies to the fact that she looked through the window of the EL train and saw the boy stabbing his father. (10/ 15) However, it becomes evident that the woman has deep indent marks on her nose from her eyeglasses. It is most likely, then, that she would have seen everything as in a blur, and may have made a mistake. Evidently, the woman tried to make herself look young and attractive because she was on show during the trial. Also the prosecution team deliberately asked her to remove the eyeglasses so as not to draw attention to her poor eyesight.
- He also proves that the knife wound was possibly done by a taller man using an “underhanded” method of stabbing. He also states that just because the boy cannot remember the details of the movie does not automatically disprove his alibi or his guilt. He may be emotionally upset.
- The 8th juror also contradicts the pawn broker’s advice that the knife is unusual and rare.
Through the constant probing of the 8th juror, Rose shows how some of the jurors have manipulated the judicial process, because of their preconceived opinions about the boy. The bigoted jurors are the last to concede defeat because of their deeply held convictions.
Does the boy receive a fair trial?
Owing to the views and values of the 8th juror, the boy does receive a fair trial. The 8th juror insists that the jury members investigate the evidence before returning a verdict.
- He insists on the need to scrutinise the circumstantial evidence and establish the degree of doubt surrounding the testimonies.
- He cannot send a boy to death without “talking about it first”
- He represents justice; he believes that everyone should have a fair and just trial.
- He is a thoughtful and intelligent man.
- He reminds the jurors of their legal obligation under the constitution. They have to prove that the man is guilty.
- He seeks to discuss the “facts” and exposes many problems in the evidence.
- He believes that there must not be any doubt if they are to convict the boy.
- DOUBT: He shows that there is some doubt concerning:
- The testimony of the eyewitnesses
- The knife : The angle of the knife wound proves that the person was most likely taller than the father, and used a downward stabbing movement. The boy would have used an upward stabbing movement.
- Alibi: Just because he cannot remember the details of the movie does not mean to say that he was not there. He may have been suffering emotional stress. (the 4th juror cannot remember the movie he recently saw.)
There is doubt because: the bigoted attitudes, the personal experiences; the eyewitnesses’ agendas
How does the 8th juror persuade the other jurors to change their minds about the verdict
- Legal duties: Constantly reminds the jurors of their legal responsible and shows them how to apply the concept of “reasonable doubt” – emphasis on “talking”
- Plants / sews the seed of doubt: by systematically investigating the shortcomings in the evidence… By deconstructing the evidence he shows the flaws, and suggests that they formed hasty assumptions based on their prejudiced views… (exposes their prejudice and shames them… ); Makes suggestions about the evidence to prompt reflection; Asking probing questions… 5th juror… “could you hear anything over the El-train”
- Tests the evidence: Illegally buys the knife (explore symbolism) in order to expose the pawn broker’s comments ; Visual re-enactment so that the jurors can recognise their erroneous assumptions (dramatic)
- He is calm, respectful and considerate; he inspires respect and diffuses the tension that mounts in the jury room. He does not belittle the other jurors. Owing to his admirable personality, he does incrementally convince other jurors. Significantly, the 9th supports the 8th juror and this gradually has an impact on the others. The 8th juror is the only one who remains true to the significance/ symbolism of the anonymous numbers/jury members/
- He can also be provocative at times: He often goads or provokes the jurors in order to gain a reaction: when he calls the 3rd juror a “sadist” and accuses him of pursuing a personal agenda, the 3rd juror lunges at him… (37). This turns out a calculated move to expose and embarrass the 3rd It also shows that just because some says “I’ll kill you” does not literally mean that they will murder a person.
- Appeals to empathy – sets up contexts for identification – old man
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