The jury system is interpreted in quite an unusual way in Murder on the Orient Express. In Murder on the Orient Express, a self-appointed group of twelve people, the same number of individuals that are on a jury, sentence Ratchett to death and kill him. The concept of a “jury” or the idea of the justness of a jury is of thematic significance in the novel. The jury symbolizes justness. The Armstrong family justifies killing a person because they did so in a group of twelve people who decided that Ratchett must die. Yet their conception of the jury has nothing in common with the jury as intended by the state and legal system. Like Poirot, this group of people didn’t base their actions on any kind of law. Their system of a “jury” is based only on consensus. It causes responsibility for the death of one man to be on the shoulders of several people rather than just one. This is what happens in the state legal system: the state puts together a jury who must make a decision on the fate of one person. However, in the case of juries in the legal system, there is control exerted over the people chosen to be on the jury. If juries in the legal system were comprised of family members of victims, juries wouldn’t be able to avoid bias. Yet we are unable to know for certain that Ratchett didn’t carry out the crime. The novel makes clear that Ratchett, or Cassetti, did “give the law the slip.” However, it’s possible that he wasn’t the man who killed Daisy Armstrong.
The questions of what a jury is and how “just” the system of justice is are constantly asked in this novel. A question that is especially focused on is whether a self-appointed jury can be just. The novel’s final argument is that the murder of Ratchett was “just.” This is consistent with Poirot and the other characters. The jury that they came together and formed caused there to be a consensus of twelve, and this was fair and just.