The Jury System

In this lesson, students will learn about the jury system. Its origins are important to understanding how the Constitution was developed and comprehending how the jury system fulfills dual roles: engaging citizens in their government and ensuring individual liberty. Students should understand the ongoing balance between the common good and individual freedom.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Twelve Angry Men: Trial by Jury as a Right and as a Political Institution

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.

  • Resource Type: Books, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

A History of Conflict and Resolution and the Jury System

Students will gain an understanding of the modern jury system and historical methods of conflict resolution. They will compare and contrast the different trial methods of past and present, and analyze each as a way to resolve conflict. They will examine jury trials and the responsibility to decide the facts. Then students will write a persuasive essay arguing for their preferred method of trial.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Participating in the Jury System

Students will participate in activities and discussions about the relationship of a democratic society to its legal institutions, and the issues of fairness and equality under the law and legal system. They will discover how constitutional amendments such as the Fourteenth Amendment influence lawsuits, and they will apply concepts within the Bill of Rights to jury trials.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Making Decisions by Group: The Jury System

Students will learn about the nation’s jury system and its importance to the rule of law in the United States. Students will experience the Sixth and Seventh Amendments at work as they engage in the main lesson activities, including one in which they will serve as jurors.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

A Conversation on the Constitution: Jury Service

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy discuss the history and responsibilities of juries and the role they play in the U.S. judicial system. This video complements FAQs: Juries, 11 short videos about the history of juries and what to expect as a potential juror.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Special Needs/Language Focus, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12