The play is set in a New York City Court of Law jury space in 1957. The play opens to the empty jury space, and the Judge’s voice is heard, offering a set of final directions to the jurors. We learn that this is a murder case and that, if condemned, the obligatory sentence for the implicated is the death sentence. After these directions, the jurors go into.
The guys file in and choose to take a short break before deliberating. They grumble that the room is hot and without air-conditioning; even the fan doesn’t work. All the jurors presume the apparent guilt of the offender, whom we find out has been accused of eliminating his daddy. Ultimately, the twelve take a seat and a vote is taken. All of the jurors vote “guilty,” other than for the 8th Juror, who votes “not guilty,” which, due to the requirement of a consentaneous jury, requires them to talk about the case.
The jurors react violently against this dissenting vote. Eventually, they choose to go around the table, describing why they think the young boy to be guilty, in hopes of convincing 8th Juror.
Through this conversation we discover the following realities about the case: an old guy living below the young boy and his dad testified that he heard upstairs a fight, the kid shouting, “I’m gon na eliminate you,” a body hitting the ground, and then he saw the young boy running down the stairs. The boy declared he had actually been at the motion pictures while his dad was murdered, however could not keep in mind the name of the motion pictures or who was in them. A lady living across the street testified that she saw the boy eliminate his father through the windows of a passing raised train. The boy had, that night, had an argument with his daddy, which resulted in the kid’s daddy striking him twice. Lastly, the boy has a substantial list of previous offenses, consisting of attempting to slash another teen with a knife.
There is a strong rallying versus the accused. 3rd Juror compares him to his own boy, with whom he was separated, and 10th Juror reveals strong racist propensities versus the accused.
When a discussion about the murder weapon, which was recognized as the knife purchased by the defendant, a “unique” knife, begins, 8th Juror surprises the others by providing an identical knife he had bought in a pawn shop two blocks from where the boy lived a few nights prior, shattering the claim that the knife was so distinct and identifiable.
8th Juror makes a proposition that the other eleven of them might vote, and if all of them voted “innocent,” he would not stand alone and would support their guilty verdict. They consent to this and vote by secret tally. The vote is 10 “guilty” votes and 1 “not guilty” vote, therefore the consideration continues.
Immediately, the jurors switch on 5th Juror, implicating him of having changed his vote out of compassion for the kid. 9th Juror stands and admits to having altered his vote due to the fact that he wish to hear the arguments out.
8th Juror casts doubt on the credibility of the testimony of the old man living downstairs. 9th Juror provides the possibility that the old man was only testifying to feel crucial. 8th Juror concludes by stating that even if he did hear him state, “I’m gon na kill you,” that extremely well might be secured of context as just a figure of speech. With this 5th Juror changes his vote to “innocent,” and the vote is 9-3 in favor of guilty.
After another heated conversation which raises the concern of why the young boy would have returned home, after eliminating his father, they take another vote. This time, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th vote “innocent,” and the consideration continues.
After a quick argument, 8th Juror brings into concern whether or not the downstairs next-door neighbor, an old guy who had suffered a stroke and might just mosey, might have gotten to the door to see the kid diminish the stairs in fifteen seconds, as he had actually affirmed. 8th Juror recreates the layout of the home, while second Juror times him, and they conclude that he would not have actually had the ability to reach his door in fifteen seconds.
3rd Juror reacts strongly to this and winds up assaulting 8th Juror, screaming, “God damn it! I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him.” 8th Juror asks, “You don’t really imply you’ll kill me, do you?” showing his earlier point about how people state, “I’ll eliminate you,” when they don’t really mean it.
Act II resumes in the very same minute we ended with in Act I. After everything cools down, the jurors resume considerations. Another vote is taken, and the jury is now six to 6. They take a break. Throughout this break, it starts to drizzle outside. Also, they have the ability to turn the fan on, cooling off the space.
When deliberations resume, 8th Juror attempts to break apart the statement of the arresting law enforcement officer that the defendant was unable to name the movies that he had claimed to have actually seen that night. He asserts that perhaps the offender just forgot the names of the films and who remained in them “under excellent psychological distress.”
Upon additional conversation about the switchblade, it ends up being doubtful whether or not the offender would have made the stab wound, “down and in,” which would be contrary to his knowledge and experience with how to utilize such a knife.
The jurors take another vote, and it is now nine to 3, all but 3rd, 4th, and 10th Juror are in favor of ‘innocent.’ This releases 10th Juror in an enormous bigoted tirade, which ends with fourth Juror scolding him back into his seat.
9th Juror calls into question the eyewitness statement of the lady living throughout the street, as she used glasses however chose not to use them in court, bring into question whether she would have been wearing them in bed, when she saw the murder through her window.
Now, the vote is 11 to 1, and 3rd Juror stands alone. In the beginning, he perseveres, stating that he will be the holdout to make this a hung jury. He releases himself into a final enormous rant against the boy that comes down into rubbish. 8th and fourth Jurors make a short final plea, and 3rd Juror finally yields, saying “All right. Innocent.” The Supervisor informs the Guard that they have reached a decision, and the Jurors leave the courtroom.