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Jury Duty - a Teen on Trial for Murder

Imagine that you are serving on a jury that has heard the following criminal case against an 18 year old Puerto Rican-American boy accused of knifing his father to death.

The prosecution case:

The defense case:

Here are the judge’s instructions: “If there's a reasonable doubt in your minds as to the guilt of the accused, a reasonable doubt, then you must bring me a verdict of not guilty. If however, there is no reasonable doubt, then you must in good conscience find the accused guilty. However you decide, your verdict must be unanimous.”

How do you vote, guilty or not guilty?

After you and your students finish with the situation above, explain that it is a summary of the case at the center of a 1950s television drama that was made into an award-winning film. As the film is widely available on DVD, you may want to show and discuss it as a follow up. Whenever I have done so, students initially grouse when they see a black and white film beginning, but all succumb to the power of this film almost immediately. I usually show it over two class periods, and students can't wait for the second day.

12 Angry Men is available at

The Wikipedia article on 12 Angry Men

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original web posting: Saturday, March 7, 2009
last modified: Saturday, March 07, 2009