12 Angry men (1957) - based on the play starring Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman
Neque enim aedem militares et
emperatoriae artes sunt
"Nor are the talents of the soldier and ruler the same"
12 Angry men is one of the most important courtroom/jury room dramas ever to come out of the United
states. The question presented to us in this great movie offerings is this: Is there justice in the level of
discourse that is being offered. Is the articulation on the issues in fact valid or is it semantic like argument
on feigns of dubious validity. If a case appears as it should: "open and shut" - is that reason enough to start
to discount it? Should you decide that everything that could go the other way hypothetically, no matter
how remote the possibility, that should be the order of the day of a particular brand of "more pure" justice?
Should the prejudices carried by members of the jury or testifying witnesses be reason enough to negate
and retard their testimony? should they be required as jury members to vote the other side instead? The OJ
Simpson criminal trial contained all of these elements in the minds of those who assembled not too long
ago on a PBS panel inquiry headed by talk show host Mr. Charlie Rose. The ownership of property in and of
itself should never be sufficient qualification to sit on a jury to decide the fate of members of the
community. Instead, a sound grounding in values that are humanistically pure and demonstrably so,
combined with sound reasoning skills and experience in the proper and right application of legal
principles that come from this sound philosophical basis should rule, and be the requirement. So a panel
of judges perhaps, appointed on more than their connections within legal circles as it presently is
comprised, rather on an open contest in which real votes for merit may be clearly exercised in the
protection of all.
Otherwise, we could someday die for no other reason than a lack of restraint in the environment caused
by a complete breakdown in the expectation of justice based on jury members that are nothing more
than proxies for those that would inflict their own brand of justice instead. The OJ Simspon affair should
raise just such alarm bells as the second trial rightly pointed out, however it came too late to
impose penalties to fit the crime - financial constraints that were imposed subsequently on the defendant
could hardly be deemed sane enough for anyone that was looking in at the situation in objective fashion
unable to do nothing but "shake their heads" in amazement that this could go on without a public
scream that should never end until the righter outcome is seen through instead.
Michael Rizzo Chessman