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Introduction to Twelve Angry Men. ENG 3C1. Agenda:. Historical Context: Live Television Drama in the 1950s Author: Reginald Rose History on Twelve Angry Men How is the Law Involved? History of Criminal Law Selection of a Jury Function of a Jury Law of Evidence

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Presentation Transcript
  • Historical Context: Live Television Drama in the 1950s
  • Author: Reginald Rose
  • History on Twelve Angry Men
  • How is the Law Involved?
    • History of Criminal Law
    • Selection of a Jury
    • Function of a Jury
    • Law of Evidence
  • Setting the Stage: Responsibility
historical context 1 live television drama in the 1950s
Historical Context1: Live Television Drama in the 1950s
  • The decade of the1950s is known for its live dramas that were broadcast on television; known as the “golden area of television”;
  • During this period, television replaced radio and film as the primary entertainment for society
  • Live drama died out in the 1960s because new technology enabled productions to be filmed

1Prestwick House:

author reginald rose 1
Author: Reginald Rose1
  • Born on December 10, 1920 in New York City
  • During WWII he served in the US army, ending his career as a first lieutenant
  • After the war he worked as a clerk, publically writing for Warner Brothers Pictures, writing short stories and novels
  • He became a regular writer for CBS’s Studio One, a weekly show that produced live drama
  • In that same year he wrote Twelve Angry Men, his most popular work to date, that was broadcasted on September 20, 1954

1Prestwick House:

history on twelve angry men
History on Twelve Angry Men
  • The play was inspired by Rose’s experience of jury service
  • The 12 “Angry Men” are the individuals that make up a trial jury for the purposes of hearing a legal case and interpreting the facts, and finally returning with a verdict of either guilty or not guilty for the accused
history of criminal law 1
History of Criminal Law1
  • Early Juries
    • Trial by jury was brought to England in the mid 11th Century (1066)
    • In Medieval Europe, trials were usually decided by ordeals, where it was believed that God intervened, “revealing the wrongdoer and upholding the righteous”1
      • i.e. Ordeal by Water: the person who was accused was “tested” in water. If the accused floated then it meant he/she was guilty (surfacing to be punished), and if the accused sank, it meant that he/she was innocent…
    • In 1215, the Catholic Church decided that truth by ordeal was merely superstitious, and they needed a more credible system


early juries 1 cont d
Early Juries1 cont’d
  • The first jury was made up of local people who were expected to know the defendant
  • Jurors were to “say the truth” (nowadays it is called “deliberating toward a verdict”)
  • By the 14th Century, the role of the jury finally became that of judgment by evidence
  • By the 15th Century, trial by jury became the dominant mode of resolving legal issues, and it was not until centuries later that the jury assumed a more modern role of deciding on facts on that which is heard in a court of law


selection of a jury 1
Selection of a Jury1
  • A large group of citizens are called to appear before the court for jury duty (usually receiving a letter in the mail)
  • Each province and state (both Canada and USA) has its own qualifications for those who may be eligible to serve on a jury
  • Universally, jurors must be:
    • citizens of that nation
    • be local residents (i.e. an Ontario resident will most likely not be called out to P.E.I. for jury duty)
    • of majority age,
    • of approved integrity (others must vouch for the “character” of that individual)
  • Both the prosecution and the defense examine the jurors to determine whether cause for challenge in any particular case exists
  • There are many disqualifications and exemptions from being a juror, which you will explore in an activity shortly


function of a jury 1
Function of a Jury1
  • Whether evidence is properly admissible or not (allowed or not) is a question for the court, but the weight and credibility of that evidence is determined by the jury
  • After the evidence has been presented, the two counsels, first the prosecution then the defense, “sum up” their arguments in a manner that is favourable to their own side
  • The judge makes a charge to the jury about the rules of law applicable in that particular case and sends them off to deliberate
  • Juries deliberate (consider and talk out the facts, arguments, testimony, evidence) until they reach an agreement (unanimous in criminal trial) and return to the court with a verdict as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant


law of evidence 1
Law of Evidence1
  • Burden of Proof
    • Burden of producing evidence beyond all reasonable doubt (persuading the jury to believe) rests with the prosecution to prove guilt
  • Relevance
    • Evidence is relevant when it has a tendency to prove or disprove disputed facts
      • i.e. eyewitness testimony is relevant because it can prove an event happened


law of evidence 1 cont d
Law of Evidence1cont’d
  • Hearsay
    • Statements made outside of court by someone who is not present to testify under oath at trial
      • One reason for excluding this evidence is because cross-examination can’t occur, which is the opportunity for one side to ask questions to that witness in hopes of refuting his/her information/credibility


law of evidence 1 cont d1
Law of Evidence1cont’d
  • Witnesses
    • Nearly all persons with knowledge relevant to the case can testify
    • Expert witnesses can also be called on, which are experts in their field of work and can interpret findings, examine situations, forensics, etc.
      • i.e. psychologist, medical doctor, coroner


about the play
About the Play
  • The play deals with the sensitive issues of prejudice and racism, relying heavily on the portrayal of stereotypes
  • You must be alerted to the fact that the views of the jurors, as improper as they are (mid 20th Century), did influence the jury system/decisions for many years
  • This controversy emphasizes the play’s important theme of justice prevailing, even if one person stands up for what is right
setting the stage
Setting the Stage

The Charge to the Jury: Responsibility