Twelve Angry Men: A Jury Between Fact and Norm

26 Pages Posted: 25 May 2007


This short essay was written for a symposium marking the fiftieth anniversary of the classic film's appearance. With a great cast, it remains perhaps the most compelling portrayal of an American jury in action. I begin by noting eight details in Twelve Angry Men which are so obvious that their significance may be difficult to discern. I then discuss the significance of the film's being a drama, indeed, a drama about a drama. I discuss the kind of truth that a dramatic portrayal of the jury can aspire to and what it can add to social scientific accounts. Finally, I identify the six dramatic tensions that define the film's meaning.

Keywords: Law & the Humanities, Litigation & Procedure, Legal History, Jurisprudence & Legal Philosophy

Suggested Citation

Burns, Robert P., Twelve Angry Men: A Jury Between Fact and Norm. Chicago-Kent Law Review, 2007, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-15, Available at SSRN:

Robert P. Burns (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-6613 (Phone)
312-503-8977 (Fax)

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