Good morning/afternoon class and sir/miss. Most people would accept that justice should be the aim of any legal system. Never the less, some legal systems exist without any apparent notion of justice. One only has to think of the totalitarian regimes in Iraq under Saddam and in Russia under Stalin, where the law was simply a means of repression, not a means of doing justice.
The word justice appears in many of the United States’ most important documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance. But for a word that’s used so often, its precise definition is still a topic of debate for philosophers, theologians and legislators.
Justice is often used interchangeably with the word “fairness”. In any situation, be it in a courtroom, at the work place or in line at the local store, we all want to be treated fairly.
Set in the sweltering summer of 1954, Reginald Rose's socially perceptive play "Twelve Angry Men", demonstrates the dangers of a justice system that relies on twelve individuals to reach a "life or death" verdict with collective states of minds hindered by "personal prejudice". At the beginning of the play, Rose explores the idea that doubt is a harder state of mind than certainty by portraying doubt, in the guilt of the boy, as a minority view within the courtroom. However, as the play progresses a seed of doubt is planted and the importance of self-prejudice hindering the verdict is removed, making it harder for the jurors to hold their certainty in their guilty verdict.
For my related text, I have chosen Robert Palm’s episode of Law and Order called Subterranean Homeboy Blues. In this episode, a white woman shoots two black men in a crowded subway carriage, and claims she did so in self-defense. After a lot of internal disagreement, the district attorneys office goes forward with a prosecution, not believing her claim. 1:30
In 12 Angry Men, justice is a core element of the play. Rose uses several persuasive methods from the jurors to convince each other of their own opinions. Initially, only one juror believes the young man is innocent. How ever later on in the play when they call another vote, 6 men raise their hands straight away and then 5 other men slowly raise their hands after looking around at the others. I believe the other jurors voted guilty out of the pressure to conform.
The non-conformist Juror number 8 says, “ I have reasonable doubt and cant decide in 5 minutes whether or not someone should be sent to the electric chair”. This tells us that