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The jury system either the majority or unanimous system is a part of our Justice system. Recently, when present at a trial of young Puerto Rican youth accused of murder, it appeared that the unanimous jury was stronger and favourable. This was concluded as the longer timeframe which the unanimous system in this case allowed the opinion of all jurors’ in the decision making process which resulted in a reasonable doubt. At the same time, it allowed the jurors’ prejudice to affect their judgement and acquired a fair chance to thoroughly re- examine the evidence.
The extensive timeframe of the unanimous jury system, allowed the evidence presented in the courtroom to be thoroughly examined, especially as the defence attorney appeared less than proactive. To start, the testimony of the knife presented in court was disproved in the jury room as an identical knife was revealed by Juror Eight. Thus it became apparent it would have been “coincidence for another person to have stabbed the father with the same kind of knife” (p.
17) that resulted in a change in Juror Nines’ vote.
Similarly, Juror Eight raised another statement regarding the time it took the old male witness to reach his door and see the boy, posing a doubt in the jurors’ minds, as “it’s a long walk…. for an old man who had a stroke” (p. 34) which modified the votes of Juror Two and Six. Correspondingly, most jurors immediately started to rethink their votes as the evidence was slowly examined in depth.
Allowing the evidence to digest and the vote count to change from “11 to 1- guilty” (p. 7) to reach a verdict of ‘not guilty’.
The timeframe allowed the evidence to be fully discussed and understood, which fluctuated the votes from ‘guilty’ to ‘not guilty’ due to reasonable doubt. The unanimous jury system also, allowed the longer period of time to reveal the jurors’ prejudices to affect their judgement and hurt feelings. Initially, the attitudes of the twelve men were displayed towards the Puerto Rican boy in the opening verdict. However, they were reasonable and changed when the jurors’ demonstrated racism, boredom, bias and a careless manner. This became evident when Juror Seven made up his decision stating “the boy is guilty, pal.
So let’s go home before we get sore throats” (p. 22) without even discussing the reasons behind his decision. In the same vein, an act of racism was portrayed against the Puerto Ricans to other migrating citizens, raising their faulty manners. Juror Tens racist behaviour was displayed when the votes were “nine to three in favour of not guilty” (p. 51) by describing the Puerto Ricans as liars and people who “don’t need any big excuse to kill someone” (p. 51). Moreover, the personal belief of the juror’s was noticed as some declarations made were offending and others were simple personal beliefs which were bought into the case.
Juror Three displayed an aggressive behaviour when he was confronted by Juror Eight who described him to be “a sadist” (p. 37), as a result Juror Three threatened to “kill him” (p. 37). The prejudices and personal beliefs were being touched; which allowed the true colours of the juror’s to be exhibited in the jury room. A unanimous jury allows everyone to have a say and express their opinion on the trial so all decisions are understood by everyone, since the jury is able to take much more time to deliberate and put forward a reasonable doubt.
In the beginning, when the votes were 11 to 1 in favour of ‘guilty’, the jurors start to intimidate Juror Eight who is in favour of ‘not guilty’. However, as Juror Eight was allowed to express his opinion because the unanimous jury ensures this, the puzzle started to disintegrate. Juror Eight was the first to vote ‘not guilty’ as he believed that they couldn’t decide “about somebody’s life here…in five minutes. [supposing if they were] wrong? ” (p. 7). Likewise, as a result of the discussion a reasonable doubt was formed, as every person’s outlook was revealed, with distrust in the original vote.
Similarly, the justice system has a law if reasonable doubt is formed, one must vote ‘not guilty’. The inconsistent voting became evident in Juror Twelve as he changes his vote from ‘not guilty’ to ‘guilty’ and back to ‘not guilty’ as “[he didn’t] know [and] there [was] so much evidence to sift. This [was] a pretty complicated business. ” (p. 54). Additionally, as the evidence reasoning ‘guilty’ is carefully re-examined, the change of the votes begin, and gradually most jurors change their votes, considering the other side of the case. Juror Nine is the first to change his vote as “the boy on trial [was] probably guilty.
But [he wanted] to hear more” (p. 20) giving his support to Juror Eight. The judgement of each jury member is needed to form a verdict through a unanimous jury the timeframe allows this to be thoroughly examined. It becomes apparent that a unanimous jury is more superior and well framed compared to a majority verdict system. This is summarised as the extensive timeframe in a unanimous verdict system allows the evidence to be precisely re-examined. Equally, it reveals jurors’ prejudices that affect their verdicts and allows each juror to contribute their opinions. Consequently, this suggests that a unanimous jury system needs to be retained.
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