Stereotypes in the Courtroom in the light of the movie “12 Angry Men”
The article “Stereotypes in the Courtroom” presents a magnificent picture concerning the presence of stereotypes and their severe impacts on the jurors and the respective case decisions. It is a certain fact that most of the jurors may indulge themselves in the effect of stereotyping at some time in certain cases. Various forms of stereotypes may range from race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or socioeconomic status of the respective parties. In most cases, the defendants look guilty in the eye of societal units, but the respective jury may synchronize various characteristics of the alleged party to the decision. In this context, one possible reason is less mental effort done by the respective authorities as required by certain cases. Personal liking or disliking, mental tendencies, and personal feelings of the jurors regarding some specific defendant may lead to lasting imprints in terms of justice and fair play. These features may develop due to certain attributes and behaviors of the party being presented before the jurors.
However, if we look meticulously, a similar situation is portrayed in the movie “12 Angry Men”. Huge similarities between the facts of the said article and the movie under consideration are present concerning stigma and stereotypes. For example, the statement given by Henry Fonda about the alleged boy that “he had been treated with poor circumstances throughout his life” is a vivid manifestation of what the said article depicts in real essence. Correspondingly, the notion of Ed Begley presents him as a racist person when he entitled the boy a “slum kid”. It is evident that the characters of the movie or jurors are adorned with stereotypes, especially against those belonging to several minorities or have diminished socioeconomic status. These stereotypes concerning the external attributions have a serious impact on the mental tendency of jurors and, eventually, the interpretations of the evidence. In other words, stereotypes and stigmatic relevance may lead to biased interpretations and prejudiced proceedings of the respective case.
However, these stereotypes perpetuate in society due to several sound reasons. The most effective in this aspect is the societal inequality. Such inequalities usually relate to multiple populace chunks on multiple levels. Moreover, ideas and concepts about a certain class which is perceived by family members, friends, or media may last indelible imprints on the mind. In addition, having an opinion about a certain class without spending reasonable time with their member’s leads to ripening such stereotyping. Similarly, such mental perception may prolong if one is not mentally open to accepting new ideas and concepts with the passage of time (Jussim et al.).
In this context, there may be various ways to educate the populace, including the common person and the respective jurors, to prevent stereotyping. The first step is honest conversation and debate about stereotypical threats that harm societal units. In addition, it is required to build an inclusive environment to nip this evil in the bud. Further, individuals’ mental growth and tendencies against stereotypes and stigmas must be ensured at the school level or school-age (Makhpirov & Tukhtabayeva). Furthermore, the awareness campaigns and availability of relevant training material at respective centers may prevent citizens, especially jurors, from such stereotyping.
Lastly, the pros and cons of the trial by jury have been a complex and hot topic for decades. According to my viewpoint, a jury is the most effective way to decide a person’s destiny. Undoubtedly, various evils are associated with such a group, like stereotyping and stigmas. But these can be improved by implanting several reforms and changes through the evolutionary process. Systems and competent institutions need time and specific direction to improve with the passage of time, as every black cloud has a silver lining at the end.
McKimmie, Blake M. “Stereotypes in the Courtroom.” NEW DIRECTIONS 20.1 (2011): 173.
Jussim, Lee, and Nathan Honeycutt+1. “The Accuracy of Stereotypes: Data and Implications.” (2021).
Makhpirov, V. U., and U. T. Tukhtabayeva. “STEREOTYPES’FRIGHTENING STRENGTH–AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM.” ББК 81.2 С 23 (2021): 68.