Part of Unit: Civil & Criminal Courts
Lesson Plan Overview / Details
In this lesson students learn how juries are selected and how the Consitutional Amendments (such as how the Fourteenth Amendment) influences lawsuits. Students will learn about civic responsibility and explain why participation in the jury system is important.
- Single Class Period
- 90 Minutes
California Career and Technical Education Standards
- PS.B.B9.1 Know the key elements of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and know ...
- PS.B.B9.2 Know the basic elements of all aspects of trial procedures.
- PS.FS.5.3 Use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions and solve problems.
- PS.FS.7.4 Understand that individual actions can affect the larger community.
California Academic Content Standards (Reinforced)
Objectives and Goals
- Students will review prior knowledge about the Sixth and Seventh Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
- Students will discuss various rights afforded to citizens under the U.S. Constitution.
- Students will discuss the civic responsibility of jury service.
- Students will define bailiff, civil case, class action, criminal case, defendant, defense attorney, grand jury, plaintiff, prosecution, and prosecuting attorney.
- Students will conduct interviews the teachers, administrators, and/or staff members who have served on jury duty.
- Students will write an essay explaining why participation in the jury system is important.
Activities in this Lesson
- Would You Want To Be a Juror on This Case? - Hooks / Set
The teacher will ask the students to watch the Good Morning America video clip on Dr. Conrad Murray being accused of manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. Subsequent to the clip, the teacher will ask the students "Would you want to be a juror on this case?" (The teacher should provide students with 3-5 minutes to voice their opinions and discuss their case).
Building upon prior knowledge from the previous lesson on the right to trial by jury, the teacher should as the class if Dr. Conrad Murray has a "right" to a jury trial. (At this point, the teacher should assess student’s retention of the definition of the Sixth Amendment and criminal trial).
Next, the teacher should ask students for rights and freedoms guaranteed to citizens of the United States (i.e. freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assembly, right to trial by jury,etc). This part of the activity could be linked learning exercise with academic civics, government, and/or U.S. History. The teacher should list student responses on the board.
If student responses have not already included it, the teacher should remind students that they are granted the right to trial by jury by the Sixth Amendment (criminal trials) and the Seventh Amendment (civil trials) in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.
The teacher should then ask students why trial by jury is an important right. The teacher should provide students with a few minutes to respond and then write on the board the following information and ask students to take notes.
On a jury:
- Cases are decided by peers
- Impartial parties hear cases
- A group of citizens (the jury) must weigh the evidence and agree on a verdict
- Dr. Conrad Murray - "Not Guilty" [ Go to Site ] Dr. Conrad Murray Pleads "Not Guilty"
The teacher should ask students to list some responsibilities that go along with the rights and freedom of citizens of the United States. The teacher will provide the students with 2-3 minutes to respond, the teacher should ask, "Is serving on a jury a civic responsibility?" The teacher should provide students with a few minutes to respond.
Next, the teacher should ask students, "What would happen if people did not serve on juries?" The teacher should wait a few minutes for students to respond and then write the following information on the board (at this point the teacher should remind students that they should be taking notes).
If People Did Not Serve On Juries:
- The quality of jurors would diminish
- The right to trial by jury might dissolve
Next, the teacher will ask students take notes and discuss the rules of eligibility for federal jury service.
1. Be citizens of the United States
2. Be at least 18 years old
3. Reside primarily in the judicial district for at least one year
4. Be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language
5. Be mentally and physically capable of rendering jury service
6. Not have felony charges pending against them
7. Not have felony convictions (unless civil rights have been legally restored)
Groups exempt from jury service:
1. Members of the armed forces
2. Members of professional fire and police departments
3. "Public Officers" of federal, state, or local governments who are actively engaged in the performance of public duties.
Selection of Jurors:
1. Potential jurors are randomly selected from voter registration lists and sometimes driver's license lists to receive a questionnaire determining their eligibility for jury service.
- Jury Duty Service - Demo / Modeling
The teacher should distribute copies of Jury Duty - Vocabulary (PDF) and Jury Duty - Student Reproducible (PDF). The teacher will go around the room in a "popcorn" fashionand ask students to read the content on the right-hand side of the page "Trials in Other Countries". The teacher should then lead students in a discussion of judicial systems in other countries. Then, the teacher should discuss the importance of the American Jury System in relation to other judicial systems throughout the world.
Next, the teacher will divide students into groups of three. (It should be noted that teachers should prearrange with a teacher, administrator, or staff to come to the class and participate in the assignment). Each student group will be assigned to a teacher, administrator, or staff member who has served on jury duty and complete Part 1: Jury Duty Interview on the Jury Duty - Student Reproducible.
Next, each student group should interview the teacher, administrator, or staff member during the period using the questions included on Part 1: Jury Duty - Student Reproducible as a starting point. The teacher should encourage students to also ask interviewees questions like: 1) What did you enjoy most about serving on a jury? or 2) What did you dislike about serving on a jury? or 3) Did you feel that it was your civic duty to serve? The teacher should remind students to also refer to the Jury Duty - Vocabulary while they are conducting the interviews.
Finally, in anticipation of the next lesson, "Prepare for Trial", ask students to inquire with the interviewees to inquire about the types of questions they were asked by the attorneys for the plaintiff and the defense.
- Jury Duty - Essay - Assessment
After conducting their interviews, the teacher should remind students to say "thank you" to their participants.
Next, the teacher should ask students to refer to Part 2: Essay of the Jury Duty - Student Reproducible. The teacher will read the instructions aloud and display them on the LCD projector, whiteboard, or flip chart:
Use your interview responses and additional research to write a 2 page (typed & double spaced) about the jury system in the United Sates including information in about the:
- process of selecting a jury
- role of the jury during a trial
- importance of juries in the American judicial system
The teacher should then ask students to participate in a "pre-writing" exercise for the balance of the class period and complete the the essay for homework.
- Assessment Types:
- Interviews, Observations,
Students should use interview data collected from teachers, administrators, or staff members on Part 1: Jury Duty Interview of the Jury Duty - Student Reproducible in conjunction with interview observations, class notes, an Jury Duty - Vocabulary to complete essay as class work/homework.