12 angry men is a play by Reginald Rose that takes the setting of a court in 1957.
It begins with a judge providing instructions to jurors about a murder case. If the court finds the accused guilty, the sentence for the crime will be the death penalty. The jurors enter the court after the instructions. Some complained about the heat in the room. The jurors all believe the accused is guilty of murdering his father. They take to a vote. All but one vote, “guilty.” The one vote from the 8th juror makes them have to discuss this case.
The other jurors do not take this difference in opinion well. They even go round explaining what makes the accused guilty to convince the 8th juror. Some facts are presented, including the testimony from an old man who lived beneath the accused who says he heard the words “I will kill you.” They even review the previous offenses of the boy, including an intention to attack a certain teenager.
The discussion switches to the weapon used. The knife was identified as unique until the 8th juror presented an identical one he purchased from a shop in the boy’s neighborhood. The 8th juror then questions the testimony provided with claims that the older man might have testified to feel important. The jurors keep changing their vote to not guilty, and the count becomes 9-3 with the majority voting guilty. The vote gets to 6-6 after a discussion that involved recreating the floor plan of the apartment, and they take a break.
A discussion about why the boy might have gone to stay home after the incident gets heated but by changes four more votes to not guilty. The knife comes into question later on and also the fact that the boy could not name the films he saw it results in another vote. The vote goes back to 9-3 in favor of the verdict not guilty.
Another witness is called an old woman, and her testimony takes the vote to 11 against 1, with the 3rd juror being alone. He is adamant, but finally, he accepts that the boy is not guilty and the verdict is reached.