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12 Angry Men Case

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12 Angry Men is a gripping drama that depicts twelve American jurors confined to a jury room on a hot and humid summer day to decide the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a murder trial.1 Before sending out the twelve jurors to deliberate, the judge reminds them that their verdict must be unanimous and that if they hold “reasonable doubt” as to the guilt of the

accused then their verdict must be “not guilty.” If, however, they find the defendant guilty then he will be sentenced to death.
Eleven of the jurors, believing that the prosecution has presented an “open-and-shut”case,quickly vote for conviction.They believe that the young, poor Puerto Rican defendant, who has a criminal record and lives in the “slums,” killed his father with a switchblade knife. The sole initial dissenter is Juror 8, played in the film by Henry Fonda, who votes“not guilty” as the deliberations begin. As the film proceeds, he deconstructs the pros- ecution’s case, progressing from communicating a sense of vague uneasiness to articulating a precise refutation of the other jurors’ specific arguments.
The Negotiation Environment
To analyze the negotiation environment in 12 Angry Men, we adopt the methodology outlined by Rojot (1991), who wrote that a negotiation is structured by the relationship between the parties, the resources and con- straints within the environment, and the bargaining power. Rojot identified two significant dimensions for evaluating the environment within which a negotiation takes place. The first dimension involves the fixed elements of the negotiation that the parties cannot influence but may use to their advantage. The second dimension involves the changeable elements of the negotiation.
The Parties
At the jury deliberation stage of the trial with which the movie begins, the jury is left as the only party to the trial that has any ability to influence the outcome (although in reality judges may set aside jury verdicts.). The jury’s deliberations are private and jurors do not need to justify their determina- tions of fact to anyone, as long as they deliberate appropriately according to the judge’s instructions. Each juror’s obligation is to fulfill his civic duty and the dictates of his own conscience.
Relationship Dynamics
The jurors have no existing relationships with each other prior to the formation of the jury and are not expected to retain any relationship after the trial (although in reality jurors are free to form social and professional relationships after the trial concludes, and sometimes do). Therefore, this particular negotiation process is a “one-off” situation; the jurors can be predicted to have fewer inhibitions against conflictual and competitive behavior because they will feel less necessity to maintain existing personal and professional relationships. Furthermore, no alliances or teams initially exist; each juror answers only to himself and to the law.
Resources and Constraints
The jurors’ resources and the constraints on their deliberations appear to be static: they have no access to the external world and have no means to

Negotiation Journal October 2007 451

acquire further evidence or even leave the room to which they are con- fined. But because of the strategies that Juror 8 uses, the resources and constraints change repeatedly: testimony is reexamined — almost as if“new evidence” were actually being produced (although in theory all evidence has been produced and it is just being reframed) — and alliances form and shift among the individual jurors.
The resources at the jury’s disposal are the evidence and the witness testimonies presented at the trial, and the arguments made by the prosecu- tor and the defense attorney. The internal constraints include time (as soon as the trial is over the jurors may resume their own lives) and the physical environment (they are confined to a small, hot, locked room). The external constraints include the rule of law and the expectation (their own and their community’s) that they will behave responsibly and deliver justice.
A less tangible constraint is human behavior’s “bounded rationality,” that is, personal prejudices that influence people’s decision-making capa- bilities. Therefore, although “the objective of a negotiation is to negotiate specific items” (Rojot 1991) rather than objectively focus only on the case at hand, jurors can bring their own personal biases and concerns into the jury room.
Bargaining Objectives and Issues
The lack of quantifiable objectives presents challenges to any effort to analyze 12 Angry Men from a negotiation perspective. As the judge reminds the jury in the opening scenes, what is at stake is the delivery of justice and the life of the accused. The outcome will have little material effect on any of the parties involved in the deliberations, which is atypical of most negotiations — or at least of those that receive attention in the negotiation literature. In fact, some of the jurors seem to lack any commitment to, or interest in, the process at all, a phenomenon exemplified by such comments as:“I almost fell asleep” (during the trial) or, when pushing for a quick vote, “maybe we can all get outta here.”
Table One outlines each juror’s key bargaining objectives. We make no attempt to define optimum, realistic, and sticking points as all objectives are intangible.
Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)
The best alternative to a negotiated agreement ( Fisher and Ury 1981) is the same for each juror. Should they fail after lengthy deliberations to reach a unanimous verdict they can walk out and declare a “hung jury,” which would result in a mistrial.
The implications of the BATNA, however, are not the same for all jurors. For the majority, this would mean they failed to fulfill their respon- sibility and that they will burden another jury. Juror 8, however, seems to perceive that it is his responsibility to ensure that the defendant is treated

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