In America, the responsibility to protect individual rights and promote the common good ultimately rests with its citizens, not the government. When citizens participate in thoughtful and responsible ways, the welfare of our constitutional democracy is ensured. While most civic participation is voluntary, the call to serve on a jury is not. It comes as an order by the court.
In this lesson, students will role play real lawyers as they carry out a voir dire simulation for jury selection. They will draft lists of favorable characteristics of jurors beforehand to aid in their questioning. Then, students will be presented with a list of thirty potential jurors and will impanel either a six-person or a twelve-person jury based on the size of the class. By reflecting on the impaneled jury towards the end of the session, students will think critically.
Twelve Angry Men, originally written for television by Reginald Rose in 1954 and subsequently adapted for stage (1955), film(1957) and television again (1997), effectively conveys the central importance of the right to a jury trial afforded by Article III of the Constitution as well as Amendments V, VI, and XIV.
If the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial is to be realized, the process used for selecting jurors must also be fair. Before Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law had been applied to federal jury selection practices in criminal trials but not in civil trials. In this lesson, students learn about jury selection and how the role and responsibilities of government in civil and criminal jury trials are viewed by the Supreme Court.
In this lesson, students are asked to select from a list of potential jurors those most likely to be fair and impartial in a trial of Goldilocks v. The Three Bears. Students are prompted to justify why each juror they chose would be impartial, and so gain an understanding of the challenges associated with selecting an impartial jury.
Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.
Does our obligation to uphold the law admit of exceptions? Debate the elementary civic virtue of law-abidingness and the appropriateness of civil disobedience as editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub discuss Susan Glaspell’s story with Christopher DeMuth. Includes discussion guide and model conversation. Common Core-aligned.