12 Angry Men: Conflict and Negotiation Movie Review

July 19, 2021

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The main goal of jury is to deliver a fair verdict. In order to do that, the jury has to take into attention all details of the case. This specific case had to receive a unanimous verdict of the jury because in case of the guilty verdict, an accused would be sentences to the death penalty. Before sending them out to discuss the verdict, the judge stressed that their decision had to be unanimous, because in case of reasonable doubts as to the guilt of the defendant – their verdict had to be not guilty. In case of finding the accused guilty, he would be sentenced to death. Juror 8 was the only one, who initially had a reasonable doubt and was not ready to send the accused on an electric chair. However, Juror 8 had a difficult task ahead of him to change the opinion not of one person but a coalition of people with the same guilty opinion and common goal to leave the courtroom as quickly as possible. As this jury negotiating of the verdict has all characteristics of any classical organization, it can be examined from the point of view of negotiating the organizational conflict. The conflict emerged because not all Jurors came to the same decision. To be more precise, initially, the decision of Juror 8 blocked the decision of the rest. Therefore, this paper considers the sources of power of the juries, especially Juror 8 and the negotiation technique they used. It traces how and why the conflict between the Jurors arises and resolves throughout the movie.

The Negotiation Environment

The Jurors could leave the room. The door was closed. They could not discuss the case with anyone except each other. Jurors were not obligated to justify their decisions to anyone, as long as they followed appropriate instructions. The Jurors’ only obligation was to discharge their civic duty according to their own conscience.

The negotiation environment in this specific case played an important role because the weather was unfavorable (it was extremely hot) and the room was too small. Moreover, the room had no air-conditioning and even the fan did not work. All jury members sweated except one, who had never become sweaty according to his own words. Therefore, initially, physical environment influenced the decision of the Jurors not to discuss any additional consideration to the case, because they wanted to leave the room as quickly as possible.

Sources of Formal and Informal Power of the Jurors

Foreman, Juror 1: As the principal Juror was in charge of the proceedings. By being responsible for delivering the verdict, he had a little bit of formal power. However, he lacked the leadership skills and appeared to be no more confident than any other Juror was. Therefore, Juror 1 simply performed the role of the group coordination. He was also the 7th Juror who changed his vote to not guilty.

Juror 2: It was his first experience as a Juror, so he was anxious and nervous about his responsibility. He changed his vote together with the 4th and 6th Jurors. He was reasonable and cooperative.

Juror 4: He was the 9th (second last) Juror who changed his vote. He needed the real facts to make a decision. He was calm, patient, logical, and self-assured. He was respected by the other Jurors.

Juror 5: He was the 2nd Juror who changed his vote. He had a similar background with the accused. He rarely but timely made his point by helping Juror 8.


Juror 6: He changed his vote along with the 4th and 2nd Jurors. He was reasonable and suggestible.

Juror 7: He was the 5th Juror to change his vote but only in order to go to the baseball game. He was also xenophobic. He was not respected by others Jurors.

Juror 9: He was an older man and the 1st one who changed his vote. He did that just to give to Juror 8 a fair shot to make his point. The other Jurors respected him because of his old age and accurate statements.

Juror 10: As movie began, initially, it seemed that Juror 10, who was confidently arguing the defendant’s guilt, held the most power. A majority of Jurors were agreeing with him. Juror 10 was assertive and confident. He was the 8th who changed his vote. Juror 10 had convictions against the defendant’s nationality.

Juror 11: He was the 3rd Juror, who changed his vote. He blindly believed in success of democracy and American justice system. He was reasonable and cooperative.

Juror 12: He was the 6th Juror, who changed his vote. However, he was the only one who changed his vote twice. He was cooperative but easily suggestible.

Jurors 1, 2, 6, 9, 12 had compliant personalities and were predisposed to follow the majority.

Formal Power of Juror 8

At the beginning of the movie, Juror 8’s only power derived from his decision not to support the unanimous guilty verdict. It was his legitimate source of power in the context of the jury’s reasoning.

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Informal Power

Juror 8 has used the phenomenon that formal power at critical moments of negotiation loses its influence. At critical moments, the parties of the conflict evaluate each other as individuals, namely each other’s personal integrity, trustworthiness, and credibility. Knowing that formal authority in verdict negotiation could be neglected; Juror 8 established emotional connection and was able to change the balance of power.

Referent Power of Juror 8

Juror 8 strengthened his position by forming alliances with other Jurors. He was able to encourage other Jurors to share personal information, which allowed him to guide them and draw them over. When Juror 2 offered to other Jurors the cough drops to lessen the tension, Juror 8 was the only one who accepted them. In terms of personal traits, Juror 8 demonstrated patience and compassion. He was not the only one in the room who was vague on a point of the defendant’s guilt, but he was the only one, who cared about being sure that the accused had a fair trial and the jury discharged their civic duty carefully and properly. He acknowledged that he had no conclusive evidence to prove his point, but asked for time and advocated the necessity of fair trial for everybody.

Expert Power of Juror 8

The physical evidences overwhelmingly supported the guilty verdict. Nevertheless, Juror 8 was able to use them to support his non-guilty stand. Juror 8 took some time to observe and study the behaviors of his opponents. Later on, Juror 8 was able to introduce the facts from another perspective (employing the background of the accused or contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies, or a switchblade that looked exactly like the murder weapon). He challenged the other Jurors’ perspectives by initiating role-playing and other demonstrations for testing their trustworthiness. Because of Juror 8, the additional defense theory emerged. By reexamining the testimony, he was able to provide the new evidence that supported his reasonable doubt. He kept an open mind about the presented evidence and was able to evaluate critically their true value.

Charismatic Power of Juror 8

Juror 8 was clearly willing to question the opinion of the majority and authority of the prosecution. He publicly stated his position, even knowing that eleven other Jurors would not be happy about his decision. For instance, the 3rd Juror claimed that the verdict was an “obvious … one” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957) and the 7th expressed the opinion that the trial was a “goddamn waste of time” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). Juror 8 stood up for his belief that the case should be discussed more carefully. As a result, he was the only one in the room who did not change his vote. He was able to defend his position respectfully and patiently in order to do the right thing. His admirable character became even more charismatic when he sincerely admitted that he had broken the law to purchase a switch knife; he was ready to risk his well-being in order to prove the innocence of another human being. When, at the end of the movie, Juror 3, was left alone with his guilty vote, and the Juror 8 pressed him to argue his position, “We’re not convinced; we want to hear them again” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). It indicates that Juror 8 had a complete command of the decision–making process. Now, he was the group leader and represented their will.

Personal Power of the 3rd Juror

Juror 3 had a 21 years old son with whom he had unhealthy relationship. Juror 3 considered that his son gave him not enough respect. The Juror 3 believed in the importance of physical strength and force. He was a confident and aggressive man. Juror 3 considers himself “the competitive type” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957), in the realities of the modern life. His experience of being a Juror before granted him some authority among other Jurors. He was absolutely confident in the guilty verdict and resistant to any arguments that claimed the opposite. Juror 3 lacked patience and logic to make his case. Juror 3 presented difficulties to Juror 8, providing counterarguments. Juror 3 was passionately committed to his belief and judgment. He could be more successful in negotiating his point, but the problem was that his opinion was based on the morally and socially wrong stereotypes.

Five Forms of Negotiation

Each Juror has his own tactics of negotiation, such as compromise, collaboration, accommodation, avoidance, or competition

Compromise was used by the 7th Juror, who had tickets for the baseball game; therefore, he was willing to acknowledge his reasonable doubt in order to leave the room.

Collaboration is experienced when Juror 8 gambled for support, and the 5th Juror gave it to him. He respected the man’s decision, so he was willing to give him a fair chance. Juror 4 demonstrated the collaboration by analyzing facts carefully and acknowledging when he was convinced. Along the movie progressed, all the Jurors except Juror 3 demonstrated the collaborative tactics of negotiating. They all listened carefully to the facts, evaluated them, reasonably argued, and then made conclusions.

Accommodation – Juror 3 was the only one who acknowledged that he lacked resources to convince others and was forced crying to vote for the not guilty verdict.

Avoidance – Jurors 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 initially demonstrated avoidance by voting guilty. They had no strong position at that time. Only Juror 3, 4, and 10 were sure that the boy was guilty while Juror 8 had a reasonable doubt.

Competition was used by Juror 3. He had a strong and unchangeable position all along the movie except the ending. When, at the end of the movie, Juror 3 was left alone with his guilty vote, the Juror 8 pressed him to argue his position. Now Juror 8 took complete command of the deliberations. He became the group leader and their representative. Juror 3, broken and incoherent, agreed with the majority at last. The not guilty verdict became unanimous.


Forms of Negotiations used by Juror 8

The first tactics employed was compromise; Juror 8 simply suggested the jury to take their time to consider the evidence. Everyone could remain of his own opinion and nobody was required to change the vote from guilty to not guilty. The man implemented such tactics because initially he was in the significant minority and did not have strong evidence. While talking, he encouraged the Jurors to express their ideas. He indicated that he had to deal with the coalition, so he had to break it. Juror 8 suspected that some other Jurors had doubts but were uncomfortable with going against the majority. Therefore, he offered a secret voting, which also was a compromise tactics. Nobody forced anybody to vote not guilty. However, after he gained one more ally, he changed his strategy and began implementing the reasonable and thoughtful mix of competitive and collaboration tactics. From one side, he challenged the beliefs of other Jurors by systematically attacking the evidence and witnesses that produced the guilty verdict. He discredited the trial itself, competence, and loyalty to the client of the defense lawyer, as well as all the evidence presented at the trial. However, every time he attacked the evidence he provided the possibility to other jury to make a conclusion. By targeting the Jurors who seemed to have most respect – he implemented a competitive tactics. By establishing personal relationships, he implemented the tactics of collaboration. By encouraging brainstorming, Juror 8 simultaneously implemented the competitive and collaboration tactics. By doing so, Juror 8 enhanced his power by establishing the links with the Jurors that were loyal to the not guilty verdict and marginalized his most vocal enemies, namely Juror 3 and Juror 10. By employing the competitive tactics once more, Juror 8 destroyed Juror 3’s credibility and undermined his claim that words, “I will kill you!” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957) always implied the murderous intent. When the provoked Juror 3 tried to punch the Juror 8 by shouting, “I will kill you!” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957), the other juries had to restrain him.

Pondy’s Model of Organizational Conflict

Louis Pondy created a model of organizational conflict that consists of 5 stages.

Latent Conflict

At the beginning of the movie, Juror 10 started the jury’s deliberations with highly biased and, simultaneously, incentive statement, “It’s pretty tough to figure, isn’t it? A kid kills his father. Bing! Just like that” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957) Juror 8 kept his silence trying to evaluate the situation. The Jurors decided to vote right away by raising their hands. Jurors 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 12 immediately voted for the guilty verdict. A moment later, Jurors 2, 5, 6, 11, and 9 went along with them.

Perceived Conflict

Juror 8 voted not guilty and had to explain that he did so not because he was sure of the accused’s innocence, but because he considered it his civic duty to discuss the case comprehensively before sending a man to the death. Juror 10 was unhappy with Juror 8’s decision and made it obvious to be noticed by everyone in the room. After that, the Jurors received an opportunity to make their cases and convince Juror 8 in the accused’s guilt. In sequence as they sit at the table, each Juror was given time to present his case. By asking skillful questions and shrewd arguments, Juror 8 neutralized his opponents one by one.

Felt Conflict

As movie proceeded, an estrangement within the supporters of the guilty verdict became more and more apparent. The racism and extremism of some Jurors separated them from the others who had a different social philosophy. For instance, when Juror 7 alleged that the accused was doomed to live the life of a criminal because of his background, Juror 5, a man with the similar background, became really upset and defensive.

Manifest Conflict

After the results of the secret voting were revealed, the conflict finally manifested itself. It was clear that from that moment, the balance of power in the negotiation was changed. Tension grew and some Jurors gave up being polite and got personal in their statements. Juror 3 suspected that Juror 5 was the one who voted not guilty and he accused him directly. Juror 9 decided to enter the confrontation by admitting that he changed the vote. The man explained that he did it because he had respect for Juror 8’s independence of thought and wanted to give Juror 8 a fair shot to present his case completely.

When Juror 8 assumed that the accused was “too bright” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957) to shout “I’m gonna kill you” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957) for everyone to hear him and after that really murder his father, Juror 10 objected: “Bright! . . . He don’t even speak good English!” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957), and immediately was corrected by Juror 11 who was an immigrant, “He doesn’t even speak good English” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). As movie proceeded, Juror 3 became increasingly filled with indignation with those who had changed their votes to not guilty, and he angrily shouted, “What is this? Love Your Underprivileged Brother or something?” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957)

Conflict culminated when Juror 3 worked off his bad temper on Juror 8, “Well, you’re not getting through to me!” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). Then he addressed his frustration to the rest of the jury, “You all know he’s guilty” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957) After that, Juror 8 asked: “Perhaps you’d like to pull the switch?” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). Juror 3 became extremely angry and could not control what he was saying, “For this kid? You bet I would!” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). Then Juror 8 dealt the final blow to Juror 3 with words, “You want to see this boy die because you personally want it – not because of the facts. You’re a sadist!” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957). Juror 3 had a strong intention to punch Juror 8 but he was restrained by other men in the room. While being restrained, he shouted, “Let me out! I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him!” Juror 8 ironically asks, “You don’t really mean you’ll kill me, do you?” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957).

When Juror 10 speaks with a spiteful speech against the minorities, the Jurors one by one rise and turn their backs to him. At last, Juror 4 silenced him resolutely, “Now sit down and don’t open your mouth again.” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957)

Jury 8 – Promoting Compromise

1. Emphasize common goals – Juror 8 emphasized the common goal – to give the guilty verdict some consideration because the accused deserved a fair trial. In his opinion, the lawyer of the accused did a lousy job by defending his client.

2. Focus on the problem, not the people – Juror 8 had never attacked the personalities of other Jurors (except Juror 3). Initially, he did not even assert that they were wrong by voting guilty, he only pointed out that they might give additional thought to the verdict. As movie progressed, his most employed arguments were, “I am not convinced!” or “Is it possible that ” (Fonda & Lumet, 1957)

3. Focus on interests, not demands – Juror 8 made no demands not even once. He outlined his position that the boy “maybe innocent” but “maybe guilty.” However, in either case, that boy deserved a fair trial or at least an hour of consideration from the jury before he got his verdict.

4. Create opportunities for joint gain – Juror 8 offered a secret vote, brainstorming, demonstrated the weaknesses of prosecution and defense, gave opportunity to all juries to share their opinions and make their own conclusions

5. Focus on what is fair – Juror 8 was extremely focused on that deliberate consideration of guilty verdict was only fair, because otherwise the person would be executed to death.

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Jury 3 – Promoting Compromise

1. Emphasize common goals – There was no common goal. There was only his opinion. He knew such kind of people and that boy was guilty.

2. Focus on the problem, not the people – He was focused on the personality of a boy and Juror 8, and attacked their personal qualities according to his biased opinion.

3. Focus on interests, not demands – Juror 3 focused only on his demand that the verdict had to be guilty and he was not willing to consider any other possibilities.

4. Create opportunities for joint gain – Juror 3 failed to create at least one opportunity for joint gain, even at the end when he was giving a chance to present his case and make a closing statement.

5. Focus on what is fair – Juror 3 was not concerned at all about what was fair and what was not fair. In his opinion, the boy was guilty and deserved to be sentenced to death.

Conclusion

If the jury failed to deliver the verdict by not being able to reach a unanimous verdict, it would have resulted in a mistrial. However, Juror 8 did not want a mistrial; he wanted to be convinced that his decision was solid. He saw that his civic duty to ensure that the accused was finally treated justly. This negotiation was not about who was right and who was wrong; it was about fair trial. There is no doubt that Juror 8 was a skilled negotiator – charismatic and patient. Juror 8 managed to employ effectively different negotiation techniques, which allowed him to build an alliance. However, he was able to do it because the prosecution and defense lawyer left enough room for reasonable doubt. As it was said in introduction, the main goal of the jury is to deliver a fair verdict. In order to do that, the jury has to take into attention all details of the case. The matter is that when you send a man to death, you have to be sure that he deserves it. Most Jurors were too negligible with such fateful decision. It seems that they did not understand that with that decision they had to live all their life. The Juror 8 – was the only one, who understood the decisiveness of his vote. Therefore, by negotiating the careful consideration, Juror 8 helped the rest of the jury discharge properly their civic duty. It means that Juror 8 achieved the winwin solution for all concerned parties.