In "Trial By Jury", one juror (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) holds in her hands the fate of notorious gangster Rusty Pirone (Armand Assante). Convinced, as are her eleven peers, that Pirone is guilty, Valerie Alston must nonetheless cast her vote to acquit this suave but sinister figure, lest she and her son pay the ultimate price for not doing so. The strong arm of organized crime is placed around her by ex-cop Tommy Vesey (William Hurt) who works for Pirone but doesn't seem to respect him too much. Although Vesey is an intimidating presence, he has a soft spot for the demure Valerie, as do one of her fellow jurors and Pirone himself. U.S. Attorney Daniel Graham (Gabriel Byrne), whose "any means to an end" methods should have easily wrapped up the case in the favor of law and order, slowly catches on to the developing situation.
And so the film continues with Vesey, Pirone and Graham repeatedly visiting Valerie to influence her voting decision. When the case is finally decided, Valerie finds that she still has each of these parties to contend with; it seems that she just can't get rid of them. At least not legally.
Competent but unexceptional, "Trial By Jury" takes its intriguing premise and weighs it down with interludes that fail to further the plot. Instead of adding depth to the production, these episodes detract from the main story and ultimately dissipate its suspense. By the time the rather clumsy conclusion bumbles onto the screen, interest in the film's characters and storyline has been whittled down to little more than a shrug.