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Mock Trial Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Want to be guilty of great instruction? Walk your students through a mock trial after using a video lesson to provide them with the basics. For more on this topic, consider our ideas for related lessons and extra activities.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • outline the trial process of the judicial system
  • apply the procedures of a civil trial to a mock case

Length

1 to 2 hours

Materials

  • Slips of paper with the following terms on them: juror (12 of these), attorney for defense, attorney for prosecution, defendant, judge, witness (3 of these) and shadow jury (as many as needed to meet the needs of your class so that each student has a role)
  • Bowl or other container

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

Instructions

  • Begin by asking the students how many of them have served on a jury. The answer, of course, should be none.
  • Now ask students to list some reasons why none of them have been asked to serve on a jury. List the reasons on the board.
  • Play the Study.com video lesson Jury Trial and Selection in Civil Litigation, pausing at 1:15.
  • Revisit the list of reasons on the board. Do they match the qualifications for serving on a jury explained in the video? If not, fill in the missing points and post them on the board.
  • Play the video lesson again and pause it this time at 2:04.
  • Discuss the points listed on the screen for void dire. What kinds of questions might be asked of jurors during void dire to make sure that the juror is eligible to serve on the jury? Discuss these as a class, listing key points on the board.
  • Play the video lesson again, pausing at 3:56.
  • Ask the students to write down the steps in a civil trial displayed on the screen.
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson now.
  • Now place all the slips in the bowl and ask students to draw a slip. Each students should have one slip. The slip represents their role in the mock trial that will take place in class. The defendant in the case is accused of cutting down his/her neighbor's tree.
  • Now ask students to work through the steps of a civil trial, fulfilling their assigned roles, as if they were in a real trial.
  • When all steps of the mock trial have been completed, have the jury members deliberate on and write down their verdict. They should pass their verdict to the judge who will announce the verdict.
  • Finally have the shadow jury announce what their verdict would have been. Do the two agree? If not, why could there have been a discrepancy? What does this say about the justice system in America? Discuss these points as a class.

Discussion Questions

  • What types of issues might contribute to an unfair or unjust trial?
  • Should there be additional requirements of jurors?

Extensions

  • Show the film classic Twelve Angry Men to the class to illustrate the trial process.
  • Have students act out a mock trial for a well known case. Was the verdict the same?

Related Lessons

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