Vol. 82, Issue 2

The 50th Anniversary of 12 Angry Men

Nancy S. Marder
IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Table of Contents


D. Graham BurnettPrinceton University
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. i (2007)

Introduction to the 50th Anniversary of 12 Angry Men
Nancy S. MarderIIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 557 (2007)
Abstract: The year 2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the movie 12 Angry Men. This movie offers a portrayal of jury deliberations that is rare in the history of American filmmaking. One interpretation of the movie is that it portrays the jury as a group of twelve ordinary men who learn in the course of their deliberations what it means to be a jury. Continue—>

I. The American Jury

Deliberation and Dissent: 12 Angry Men versus the Empirical Reality of Juries
Valerie P. HansCornell Law School
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 579 (2007)
Abstract: This article contrasts the cinematic portrayal of jury deliberation in 12 Angry Men with an empirical portrait of real world juries derived from fifty years of jury research. The messages of this iconic movie converge with the findings of research studies in some surprising ways. Continue—>

Anger at Angry Jurors
Jeffrey AbramsonBrandeis University
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 591 (2007)
Abstract12 Angry Men portrayed the lone holdout juror as essential to the jury’s protection of the individual against injustice. But recently a number of empirical and normative questions have been raised about the holdout juror. Some studies go so far as to suggest that most holdout jurors are motivated by unreasonable doubts or are engaged in unlawful acts of jury nullification. Continue—>

12 Angry Men (and Women) in Federal Court
Judge Nancy Gertner, United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 613 (2007)
Abstract: The movie 12 Angry Men reflected everything that is extraordinary and troubling about the American jury system. It portrayed twelve lay people, struggling with questions of guilt or innocence, bias and fairness, or racism and rationality. But the movie was troubling in equal measure. Continue—>

Why Every Chief Judge Should See 12 Angry Men
Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, New York Court of Appeals
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 627 (2007)
Abstract: In this article, the Chief Judge of the State of New York, Judith S. Kaye, writes about several aspects of 12 Angry Men that raise concerns for all of today’s chief judges. She connects scenes in the film to the modern challenges of maintaining adequate jury facilities, assuring juror diversity, providing effective legal representation to those who cannot afford counsel, and incorporating twenty-first-century technology.

Deliberation in 12 Angry Men
Barbara Allen Babcock, Stanford Law School
Ticien Marie Sassoubre, University of California at Berkeley
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 633 (2007)
Abstract: The authors explore the ways 12 Angry Men remains a relevant and teachable portrayal of the mysterious process of jury deliberation. Even though few juries today would look like the jury in the film, its performance reveals the continuing value of the institution. Continue—>

A Jury between Fact and Norm
Robert P. Burns, Northwestern University School of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 643 (2007)
Abstract: With a great cast, 12 Angry Men remains perhaps the most compelling portrayal of an American jury in action. I begin by noting eight details in the film which are so obvious that their significance may be difficult to discern. I then discuss the significance of the film being a drama, indeed, a drama about a drama. Continue—>

II. The American Criminal Justice System

The Myth of Factual Innocence
Judge Morris B. Hoffman, Denver District Court, 2nd Judicial District
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 663 (2007)
Abstract: The movie 12 Angry Men is part of a larger American myth about the frequency of wrongful criminal convictions. This essay examines the broader contours of that myth, including its most recent incarnation in the form of innocence projects, suggests more realistic upper and lower bounds for the real wrongful conviction rate, and argues that exaggerations about the frequency of wrongful convictions threaten to become self-fulfilling. Continue—>

Was He Guilty as Charged? An Alternative Narrative Based on the Circumstantial Evidence from 12 Angry Men
Neil Vidmar, Duke University School of Law
Sara Sun Beale, Duke University School of Law
Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke University School of Law
James E. Coleman, Jr., Duke University School of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 691 (2007)
Abstract: This essay argues that while 12 Angry Men is typically viewed as a vindication of innocence, careful consideration of the evidence suggests that the jury probably reached the wrong verdict: the circumstantial evidence pointed to guilt! Continue—>

12 Angry Men: A Revisionist View
Michael Asimow, UCLA School of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 711 (2007)
Abstract12 Angry Men is the definitive film about the jury and has influenced generations of viewers to regard the jury system as fundamental to American justice. This article suggests a revisionist view of the film. It argues that the film should instead generate reservations about whether the jury system is likely to produce just results. Continue—>

Good Film, Bad Jury
Charles D. Weisselberg, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 717 (2007)
Abstract12 Angry Men is a wonderful movie. Acting in one of the most acclaimed film roles of all time, Henry Fonda, as Juror #8, turns around a jury bent on conviction. Fonda begins as the lone holdout and one by one the other jurors change their views. Continue—>

III. 12 Angry Men in Popular Cultures

12 Angry Men is Not an Archetype: Reflections on the Jury in Contemporary Popular Culture
David Ray Papke, Marquette University
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 735 (2007)
Abstract: While 12 Angry Men remains an important cinematic and political work, the film provides an atypical pop cultural portrayal of the jury. Most portrayals are limited and even degrading, a pattern suggesting both a failure to appreciate the jury as an embodiment of popular sovereignty and our society’s apolitical self-disenfranchisement. Continue—>

Mad about 12 Angry Men
Stephan Landsman, DePaul University College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 749 (2007)
Abstract12 Angry Men is the product of a world that has vanished. This article presents twelve reasons why we might consider placing 12 Angry Men on the refuse heap of history along with the Ford Edsel, hula hoop, and Soviet Union—things that a changing world rendered outmoded. Continue—>

A Different Story Line for 12 Angry Men: Verdicts Reached by Majority Rule—The Spanish Perspective
Mar Jimeno-Bulnes, University of Burgos
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 759 (2007)
Abstract: The film 12 Angry Men is well known in Spain, not only to picture-goers but also to researchers examining the pros and cons of trial by jury. Had its plot faithfully reflected Spanish legislation on jury proceedings, the film would undoubtedly have ended very differently. Continue—>

The German Response to 12 Angry Men
Stefan Machura, Bangor University
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 777 (2007)
Abstract12 Angry Men was well received by the German audience. It would be hard to find a German equivalent, since Germany is not a jury country. However, writer Bodo Kirchhoff and director Niki Stein created a film along the lines of 12 Angry Men. Continue—>

The Good, the Bad, or the Indifferent: 12 Angry Men in Russia
Stephen C. Thaman, Saint Louis University School of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 791 (2007)
Abstract12 Angry Men made a great impact in Russia when first screened in 1961. Jury trials were featured in classic novels of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in the nineteenth century and, after having been reintroduced in Russia in the 1990s are again becoming part of its culture. Continue—>

IV. Universal Themes

Charades: Religious Allegory in 12 Angry Men
Bruce L. Hay, Harvard Law School
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 811 (2007)
Abstract: This article argues that 12 Angry Men is a complex, elaborate biblical allegory. The first half of the article is devoted to showing that the film quietly reenacts a series of stories from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament: primarily the story of Christ, but also (among others) the stories of the great flood, the sacrifice of Isaac, the exile in the desert, and the lamentations of Jeremiah. Continue—>

Fathers in Law: Violence and Reason in 12 Angry Men
Austin Sarat, Amherst College
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 863 (2007)
Abstract: In this article I argue that 12 Angry Men is as much a film about fatherhood and law as about juries and civic virtue. It is a powerful presentation of sons subject to paternal brutality, of fathers tormented by their sons, and of the very real possibility of sons murdering their brutal fathers. Continue—>

The Banality of Evil: A Portrayal in 12 Angry Men
Nancy S. Marder, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 887 (2007)
Abstract: Popular culture thrives on a portrayal of evil as murder, mayhem, and violence, rather than as a result of small actions taken by ordinary citizens. The movie 12 Angry Men explores the evil of indifference that is far more pervasive and powerful than the evil of monsters common in film, but rare in life. Continue—>

The Kenneth M. Piper Lecture

The Changing Face of Collective Representation: The Future of Collective Bargaining
Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 903 (2007)
Abstract: Although the obstacles to employee organization appear daunting, this is an exciting time to be involved in the American labor movement. Just as the movement had to adapt as industrial methods of production were adopted around the dawn of the twentieth century, so too must it now adapt to the changed circumstances of the working people under the new information technology in a global economy.

Student Notes

Reconsidering In re Technology Licensing Corporation and the Right to Jury Trial in Patent Invalidity Suits
Andrew W. Bateman, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 933 (2007)
Abstract: Over the past decade, the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court have lessened the role of the jury in patent cases, both by classifying patent issues as questions of law for the judge, and by limiting the situations in which jury trial is available as of right. Continue—>

Codifying a Commons: Copyright, Copyleft, and the Creative Commons Project
Adrienne K. Goss, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 963 (2007)
Abstract: In response to problems of overprotection perceived in America’s copyright scheme, the founders of the Creative Commons project have sought to create modular licenses allowing authors and artists to declaim some of the default protections associated with their copyright in order to grant public permission for use of their work in contexts such as nonprofit media or derivative works. Continue—>

Expanding NLRA Protection of Employee Organizational Blogs: Non-Discriminatory Access and the Forum-Based Disloyalty Exception
Andrew F. HettingaIIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 997 (2007)
Abstract: As they fight for better working conditions both in the union and non-union context, employees increasingly use online web logs or “blogs” to better organize themselves. For organizational purposes, these blogs present numerous advantages over more traditional speech forms. Continue—>

Kelo Compensation: The Future of Economic Development Takings
Benjamin A. Householder, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 1029 (2007)
Abstract: The recent Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London has dramatically expanded takings jurisprudence, granting municipalities the power to take from one private owner for the economic benefit of both private developers and communities at large.

The Use and Abuse of the Tort Benefit Rule in Wrongful Parentage Cases
Kathryn C. VikingstadIIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
82 Cʜɪ.-Kᴇɴᴛ L. Rᴇᴠ. 1063 (2007)
Abstract: Recovery of child-rearing damages in wrongful parentage cases has deeply divided courts across the United States. Depending on the state in which parents find themselves, they may be able to recover no, some, or all child-rearing damages. Continue—>