Thursday, December 15, 2011

Juror Number 8 in "12 Angry Men" Guilty of Misconduct

Probably the most famous movie about juror behavior and deliberations is 12 Angry Men (United Artists 1967).  Henry Fonda plays juror number 8, the lone holdout, who conducts his own research when deliberations focus on a unique knife allegedly used by the defendant.  Fonda goes to the neighborhood of the crime and buys an identical knife which he shows his fellow jurors.  What is this?  Misconduct of a juror by bringing extrinisic evidence not admitted at trial into the jury's deliberations.  Makes for good drama, but violates his oath and is unfair to the prosecution.  Had this drama been set in 2011 he could have simply looked for similar knives on the Internet via Ebay, knife collector websites, or Amazon.  The desire of juror's to conduct their own research is not a new product of the Age of Social Media.

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