It is always crucial to find the right way to communicate with people who surround you. It could give you a great advantage and help to prove your point of view. Moreover, an appropriate communication tactic could help an orator to persuade the audience and make people believe in his/her words. That is why the issue becomes extremely important for the justice system as the words of a lawyer or an attorney could precondition the final result. The importance of the issue is evidenced by numerous cases that were solved using appropriate communication patterns. The accused who had no chance for success was justified and provided with another sentence. The movie 12 Angry Men provides a bright example of how different tactics chosen by a member of the jury could alter the situation and persuade other people.
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Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda, is one of the main characters of the movie as he manages to impact the audience and to demonstrate new facts that could help the accused boy to get another sentence. From the very beginning of the movie, Fonda wants to acquit the defendant and uses three specific tactics that help him to attain the goal.
First, Juror #8 uses rational persuasion. He states that a boy could be sentenced to death. It is one of the most powerful aspects of his speech. Speculating about the great value of human life and about the high responsibility of jurors who could doom a defendant, he tries to persuade them to look at the case from another perspective. “Well, I think testimony that can put a boy into the electric chair should be that accurate.” By saying these words, Fonda emphasizes the outstanding necessity of the comprehensive investigation of the issue and detailed analysis of all pieces of evidence that are used to sentence a defendant.
Moreover, he also uses the word “boy” to demonstrate that the accused is still a child and his life is valuable. Furthermore, appealing to the use of the electric chair Fonda shows that the boys death will be painful and severe. Moreover, he asks “I’d like to find out if an old man who drags one foot when he walks, cause he had a stroke last year, could get from his bedroom to his front door in 15 seconds.” This fact makes people think about the sentence and the case in general as an old man could hardly perform the outlined action. In other words, using personal persuasion, Jury #8 manages to attain a significant advantage as he implants doubt in the minds of other jurors and initiates vigorous debates related to the issue.
Personal appeals are the second efficient tactic Fondas character uses to argue with his colleagues. He realizes the fact that people who comprise the jury might have their children. For this reason, their attitude to the case could be prejudiced. He emphasizes this fact by saying “Its always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know.” These words make people think about their attitude to the case and factors that could impact their decision-making. Furthermore, the controversy of the case results in numerous debates around it. Almost all jurors are irritated by the fact that a boy is accused of killing his father.
For this reason, they try to blame the whole generation and consider the defendant one of its representatives. They blame the boy for a lack of respect. However, when Juror #3 cogitates about the spoiled character of the young generation, Fondas character says “Fathers don’t seem to think it’s important anymore.” He provides the idea that grown-ups are responsible for behavioral patterns peculiar to their children and they should share responsibility with them. Finally, he appeals to jurors’ conscience by saying “I’m not trying to change your mind. It’s just that… we’re talking about somebody’s life here. We can’t decide it in five minutes. Supposing we’re wrong?” It also helps jurors to reconsider their perspectives on the issue and think about the boys guilt one more time. Using personal appeals as an efficient tactic, he alters peoples attitude to the case which is extremely important for the final result.
The last tactic Juror #8 uses is legitimating. Fonda does not doubt the efficiency of the existing justice system. On the contrary, he states that “the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn’t even have to open his mouth. That’s in the Constitution.” These words demonstrate that they should act by the main law. At the same time, jurors conclusion could predetermine the boy’s destiny as the law is severe and it punishes people who are considered guilty. For this reason, legitimating becomes a powerful tactic that helps Fondas character to persuade people that the comprehensive investigation of the case is needed.