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.
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.
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.
Classifying Arguments is a SCOTUS case study strategy in which students are given arguments from each side of a case and tasked with identifying whether each argument supports the petitioner or the respondent. In this classroom-ready activity, students will examine arguments from Flowers v. Mississippi, which asks: Did the Mississippi Supreme Court err in how it applied Batson v. Kentucky in this case? An answer key is also available for download.
In this lesson, students will perform a comparative close reading of select informational texts from the Scottsboro Boys trials alongside sections from To Kill a Mockingbird. Students analyze the two trials and the characters and arguments involved in them to see how fictional “truth” both mirrors and departs from the factual experience that inspired it.