How did the jurors get to be selected in 1957's 12 Angry Men? None of them seems to have law as their profession so what makes them competent to sit in a jury?

  • 10
    Huh? Since when do they have to have a background in law? I thought they're supposed to be regular, impartial people. Isn't that the whole point?
    – Walt
    Jan 30, 2016 at 9:55
  • 4
    I'm Italian so anything I "know" of the American legal system I've learned it from movies (including 12 Angry Men). A jury in a trial is not elected, but selected. Here on the American Bar Association link you can find some useful info, starting with the Jury Pool.
    – Pesetas74
    Jan 30, 2016 at 10:12
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    In fact, although it does happen, it stands to reason that legal professionals be discouraged from serving on a jury or disqualified, because they'll influence the deliberations. Otherwise it's basically a second trial in the jury room [I admit 12 Angry Men veers close to that, though].
    – Walt
    Jan 30, 2016 at 10:32
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    "What is the significance of the jury made of plumbers, salesmen" I'm afraid that's more of a legal question and not really on topic here. But as a start, google professional+jury to see the arguments for and against this.
    – Walt
    Jan 30, 2016 at 11:24
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    @Haris The changes you've made to your question change it's meaning quite a lot, including making the current answer meaningless. It would be better if you put it back the way you originally asked it, and asked this one as a separate question.
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 31, 2016 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


In the US legal system, as with many others around the world, a jury is selected from the general population of registered voters by random ballot.

During the initial trial phase, known as "jury selection" both legal teams (defence and prosecution) have the right to question and then remove certain members of the jury. It's common that anyone with a genuine legal background will be removed by one or other of the teams. Certain other professions are also often "struck out" such as policemen, doctors and those with a long-standing military background.

To answer your specific point about how a jury has the capability to make a judgement on fine points of law, the simple answer is that they aren't expected to do that. The jury receives very close direction from the judge as to what they're supposed to be making a decision on, something which invariably boils down to the question of whether they feel that there was sufficient evidence for a conviction and whether they feel that the witnesses were credible.

  • I think it's usually phrased along the lines of: the jury decides on the facts of the case, and the judge them decides how to apply the law to those facts.
    – gidds
    Jan 20 at 22:48

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