Twelve jurors are in a jury room and they talk about a case they have to sort out; a 19 years old boy killed his father by stabbing him with a knife, 4 inches in the chest, probably because the guy used to hit his son since he was 5. They lived in a slum and his mother is dead since he was 9.
The jurors have to decide whether the boy is guilty or not, and they want to make it quick because most of them want to go home (they have been there for 6 days now).
They agree to vote first and to talk about it then. They all vote guilty accept for juror 8. 8 didn't vote guilty because then the case would be 'closed'. He wants to talk about it first. Now the others have to convince 8 that the boy's guilty and they go to the facts about the murder; an old man who lives underneath the scene of the crime and says he heard loud noises from above. He heard someone say 'I'm gonna kill you' and a second later he heard a body falling. He says he went to the door of his apartment in 15 seconds and had seen the boy running downstairs. So he called the police. The boy told them he went to the movies, but they didn't remember him there, he didn't have any ticket stub. There's also a woman across the street who saw the killing. She lay in bed and couldn't sleep so she looked out of the window, through the window of a passing elevated train, and that's the point when she saw the killing happen. And then there are the people from across the hall, they heard a fight going on at 8 o'clock. They heard the father hit the boy twice and saw the boy walk away. The kid also stole a car, has been arrested for mugging and stabbed somebody in the arm. At fifteen he was in reform school for stabbing someone. The boy admitted that he bought a knife and the storekeeper identified the knife and said it was the only one of its kind he had in stock. The boy said the knife must have fallen through a hole in his pocket and he never saw it again. 8 thinks the defense counsel never really conducted a thorough cross-examination, questions were left unasked.
They ask the guard to get the knife. 8 has exactly the same knife, bought it at a junk shop. Now 8 suggests to vote again (a secret ballot). He won't vote with them and if there are still 11 votes for guilty they will take in a guilty verdict. There are now 10 votes for guilty and 1 for not guilty. Now 3 is mad and wants to know who changed his vote. He says and thinks that 5 did it, but it wasn't 5, it was 9. For the same reason as 8 in the beginning, because he wants to talk about it a bit first. Meanwhile they all cooled off a bit. If they would trial him it would be 'guilty beyond reasonable doubt'. 3 asks 9 to explain what those reasonable doubts are. 9 says it's not that simple, it's just a feeling. Then 3 suggests to 12 to play tic-tac-toe to kill time and 8 snatches the paper away. 3 gets angry and thinks about fighting 8. 6 and 10 urge 3 back into his seat.
They talk about how long it takes for a train to past a point (because the woman across saw it happen). They agree it takes about 10 seconds. So now 8 gets to the point how the old man could have heard the boy scream if there was the noise of the train. He said he heard the body fall a second later, that doesn't fit says 8. 9 thinks the old man told all this for attention, because the man was very old, poor, he wanted to feel important for just once. 3 thinks it's nonsense and that 9 is making it up. 9 tells 3 that he's the same man. So 3 says that 9 admitted he's a liar as well. 8 calms him down. 8 also says that the phrase 'I'm gonna kill you' is used so very often, and that it doesn't have to mean anything. 3 says that the boy screamed it and so he meant it. But 8 says that if he would have meant it, he wouldn't say it out loud. Now 5 stands up and says he'd like to change his vote into not guilty. Now it's 9 to 3 in favor of guilty. 5 says he thinks there's a reasonable doubt here, the knife. He says that maybe the old man lied, he didn't like the kid anyway. 7 is surprised (and mad).
8 wants to take a look at the diagram of the apartment again, because he wonders how the old man could have run to the front door in 15 seconds. The man have had two strokes and walks with a pair of canes.
They all look at the diagram (except for 3,7 and 10). The old man had to walk 60 feet with canes in 15 seconds. 8 thinks that's not possible, so he tries to reconstruct that scene it. 2 tapes the time and the end at 39 seconds (so not 15!). 3 can't believe this and 8 and 3 start a quarrel. 3 says he wants this kid to die and says that they're letting him slip through their fingers. 3 gets really upset and says to 8, while two jurors hold him, that he'll kill him. Then 8 says 'you don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?'. 3 turns to the window and a guard comes in. He asks if something's wrong. The foreman says everything is ok and the guard leaves again with the diagram. They all calm down again and decide to take another vote. It will be an open vote this time. Guilty votes are from the foreman, 3, 4, 7, 10 and 12. Not guilty votes are from 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 11. Now it's six to six. 10 is mad and 4 wants to know why 2, 6 and 11 changed their minds. 6 is convinced that the old man couldn't see the boy running downstairs. And he also thinks that the phrase 'I'll kill you' doesn't have to mean anything. 7 suggests to hand the case over to 12 other guys and the foreman thinks they'll never agree on anything now they vote on if they're a hung jury. Hang jury-votes: foreman, 3, 4, 7, 10 and 12. The others vote for non-hung jury. So it's six to six again. Then 4 decides to change his vote to a non-hung jury, because he wants to talk about why the not-guilty-guys changed their minds. 2 says that he thinks that 8 made some good points. Now they time the scene where the old man gets out of bed and goes to the door. They count 29.5 seconds. So now its possible that the old man lied about the time, but that the time of the murder and the time of the old man getting there fits together. 2 now changes his mind into guilty again. 6 also swings back to guilty. Now it's nine to three again.
8 has another point: the halls are very dark at nights (in tenements) and the police used big bulbs and flashlights. So he couldn't have recognized the boy. 2 has something too. The stab, it was down into the chest and the boy's father was 1/2 foot taller. They now have a new point! The boy is an experienced knife-fighter and they don't stab down, that wouldn't be handy. When you have such a knife that flicks open, you have to change the position of the knife in your hand first to stab down into the chest. He never could have stabbed down. 8 asks if the kids smart or dumb. It doesn't make sense. If the boy is guilty; he would be dumb (to buy a knife instrument that everyone would associate with him), then smart because wiping the fingerprints and to wait until the electric train was going by, to cover the noise. That doesn't make sense. 7 Changes to reasonable doubt, 2 too.
8 wants another vote: guilty 3, 4 and 10. Not guilty: 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12. So it's now nine to three for not guilty.
They make out another point: the woman who saw the murder wore (thick) glasses.
She could possibly saw the murder just when she lay in bed tossing and turning without glasses on. Now everyone except for 3 votes for not guilty. He stands alone.
4 says that if it's a hung-jury there will be another trail and some of them will point out these things to the various lawyers.
3 Says all right. The foreman knocks on the door and the men walk out, 3 and 8 are the last persons leaving the room. 3 sees he's alone, and says 'not guilty'. They walk out the door.
Don't judge somebody too soon without talking things through first. Another theme is teamwork. It was very hard for those twelve men to work together, but by not agreeing on things they made progress in the case. But mostly I think the theme is listen and think first before you judge.
Date, time and exact place aren't given in this story. All you can tell that it's set in a jury room with 12 (stressed) jurors.
Foreman: not a very smart guy and very formal. He doesn't speak very much.
Juror 2: a person, who doesn't have his own opinion, he agrees on what the person said who spoken last.
Juror 3: a sadistic person, strong, no sense of humour, with an own will.
Juror 4: a man of wealth, he thinks he's better than the others, but cares about this case.
Juror 5: a naive person, a scared young man, very serious and also calm.
Juror 6: a person who's slow and careful with his decisions, an honest man.
Juror 7: a loud person, dresses very flashy, he's a salesman type, is quickly out of control, thinks other things are more important, judges too fast.
Juror 8: a quite, thoughtful man, looks at things from different sides, wants justice and the truth.
Juror 9: a soft, kind old man, waiting to die
Juror 10: an angry, bitter man, he has been nowhere and is going nowhere and he knows that deep inside.
Juror 11: a man who's ashamed towards others, is done injustice and it therefore looking for the truth and justice.
Juror 12: thinks people in graphics and percents and has no idea of people, he's a snob, but tries to be nice.
The title is very obvious. There are 12 jurors who have to judge whether a boy is guilty or not. They all have their doubts and points to show one another and some of them (actually most of them) get really mad (angry) when one of the others don't agree.