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Abbie: Lee, John, have you guys asked yourselves what you're doing here?

Lee: Every day.

Abbie: You're a give-back. They give the jury a couple of guys they can acquit so they feel better about finding the rest of us guilty.

What does "give-back" mean in court context?

Source: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

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  • Give-back – Dhanishtha Ghosh Dec 2 '20 at 13:59
  • I am asking in court context. – Joe Andrews Dec 2 '20 at 14:00
  • Doesn't Abbie explain it? – Weather Vane Dec 2 '20 at 14:06
  • I've not heard this phrase before but it seems to be explained by the following sentence. "They give the jury a couple of guys they can acquit so they feel better about finding the rest of us guilty" Someone is put on trial that can easily be found innocent so that the jury doesn't feel bad about finding everyone guilty and letting off someone that they shouldn't(or that someone else doens't want them to). The person that can easily be found innocent is the "give-back". This is my interpretation based on the context – ededededed87 Dec 2 '20 at 14:09
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It is informal speech. To give something back means to return it after receiving it. Here "give-back" is a verb phrase converted to a noun by putting a hyphen between the words. It means "the thing which is to be returned".

Here the accused have been given into the hands of the jurors who will decide their fate. Most of them they will hand over to punishment, presumably prison. But a few they will "give back" in the sense that they will let them go free. These are the "give-backs".

Abbie is not simply saying that Lee is likely to be acquitted. She has invented a term for what she sees as his role in these judicial proceedings.

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