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Runaway Jury

20 Feb 2017Film Essays

Summary

A trader in New Orleans was killed at his workplace by a disgruntled man who ruthlessly open fired on his former colleagues. The widow, Celeste Wood, sued the gun company whom she held responsible for her husband’s death (John, 2008). With the help of her attorney, Wendell Rohr, a man of principle, they went against a ruthless behemoth, a jury consultant Rankin Fitch. Fitch has years of experience in manipulating the decision of the jury to the favor of high paying clients. “He will know everything about their lives, and strategically manipulate the jury selection process” (Yahoo.com, 2008). With Fitch incredible talent to read people and his staff armed with high tech computerized tracking and wire tapping equipment, he seems impossible to defeat. Rohr armed only with principle and truth, is no match to the gun manufacturing company back by Fitch. The lead attorney for the Gun manufacturing company, Durwood Cable, communicates with Fitch to insure their win.

While the jurors are being gathered as trial draws near, Nicholas Easter was picked by Fitch as one of the jurors. He built his character as a happy go lucky person who tried to evade his jury responsibility. Later it became clear that Easter was more than who he was initially known. He began gaining control of the entire jury using wit and influence. He had control of almost everyone in the Jury except for Frank Herrera, a former marine who was clearly picked by Fitch to vote on their side. Easter began communicating with his girlfriend Marlee, who later then offered both Fitch and Rohr 5 Million dollars for the verdict of the case. Fitch initially underestimated Marlee until he was given some hint, like how Easter convinced the jurors to lead the Pledge of Allegiance in the courtroom. Fitch was angered how Marlee, which he considers as an amateur, was able to gain control of the jury, he ordered to raid Marlee’s apartment. Marlee came back by raising the ransom to 15 Million dollars.

Rohr on the other hand, who was initially offered the same 10 Million dollar price for the verdict knows that he barely have no chance of winning against the well back defense attorney. He tried to raise the money in order to get the proper verdict. He began communicating with Marlee, asking her to lower the price and somehow trying to tell her that he doing his best to raise the money.

Finally Fitch gave in to pay 15 Million dollar to Marlee after one of his jury broke down and Easter showing more control over the rest of the jurors. Meanwhile, while the wire transfer of 15 Million dollar was not yet completed, Fitch agents were tracking the background of Marlee and Easter. Finally they learned that Marlee, who’s real name is Gabrielle Brant, was actually the sister of a high school who died in a school shootout. Easter, who’s real name is Jeffrey Kerr, is a close friend of Marlee and her sister. The town where Marlee lives took the case to court against the gun manufacturing company. The town’s treasury got bankrupt and the gun manufacturing company won the case. It was Fitch who argued this case. Fitch agent made a quick call to Fitch but it was too late, the money was already wire transferred to Easter and Marlee’s account.

The gun manufacturing company lost the case and had to pay a large amount of money to Celeste Wood. The gun manufacturing company also lost their confidence to Fitch who lost everything, his business and his 15 Million Dollar. Marlee and Easter has been tracking all the cases of the gun manufacturing company and was there always to penetrate the slightest mistake of Fitch and his associates.

Outside the court, Kohr saw Marlee and Easter and recognize them. They smiled at each other as if saying that they realize they have the same objective, to defeat Fitch and bring justice to the victims of irresponsible gun manufacturers.

Analysis of Ethical Dilemma

Ethical Dilemma

Wendell Rohr was in a serious ethical dilemma. He was aware of the capability of Fitch and his associate, and without the help from Marlee he stands no chance against the well backed gun manufacturing company. The dilemma was that paying Marlee to buy the verdict is against his principle but letting the gun manufacturer walk away is also not right. Rohr ended up trying to negotiate with Marlee while trying his best to raise the money set by Marlee.

Easter and Marlee are also walking the line between the unethical way of controlling the verdict against the justice that they are seeking from the gun manufacturing company and from a jury consultant like Rankin Fitch who sways away the outcome of the jury to the favor of the highest bidder. Easter, although at times trying his best to influence the jurors, ended up just trying to protect the jurors from the influence of those who are under Fitch control. Easter had to do the best he can to prevent Fitch from pressing his control through the jury that Fitch selected.

Ethical Framework in the Movie

The ethical framework that Wendell Rohr used, which is trying his best to raise the money after he could not negotiate with Marlee the just verdict, was ineffective. He clearly did not have control over it. In reality, Rohr did not really have a choice because without Easter Fitch has control of the jury.

The response of Rohr, of trying to raise the money to buy the verdict actually worked to the advantage of Marlee and Easter. It gave some counter weight to Fitch that there is a possibility that Rohr’s team might buy the verdict from Marlee. Although this was not really emphasized in the movie but that was enough for Marlee to let Fitch know that they are willing to sell the case to the highest bidder. Although they were not really after Rohr’s payment, they were really after protecting the jurors from Fitch control. Although to some extent Easter has to influence some of the juror to insure that they get justice for Marlee’s sister and for all the victims of gun shooting. Clearly the ethical framework that Marlee and Easter used, which is to fake that they are willing to sell the verdict to the highest bidder, but really they were after the gun manufacturer’s defeat and Fitch downfall was very effective. They were able to attain their ethical objective which is to let the gun manufacturer pay to Celeste Wood, one of the many victims of irresponsible gun selling. They were also able to let Fitch pay for his ruthless moneymaking business, which is controlling the verdict of the jury in favor of the large company who are willing to pay.

Suggested Ethical Framework

For Wendell Rohr, he could have stick to his principle of playing clean. He could have focused his efforts on showing that the gun manufacturers are responsible. Although his efforts will have little effect on the outcome but giving more efforts would give the right verdict.

Marlee and Easter could have fought cleanly by just helping Rohr gather evidence and not trying to manipulate the outcome. Although with Fitch incredible talent to pick juries that would sway away the entire jury decision to his choice, they would definitely loose.

References

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