Benefits of Mock Trials How to transform your classroom environment using Mock Trial, Moot Court and script reading
Why invest time in Legal Activities Students develop: Listening skills Strategic thinking Material organization and presentation Oral presentation Controlled arguing Cooperation with fellow students Significant cognitive achievement Success for a wide variety or learning abilities and learning styles
The Mock Trial you see in this picture is a view of the Defense on one side and the Prosecution on the other. Their witnesses are behind them and the jury to the side. This is in a trailer.
Types of interactive legal activities Scripted trial reading Role-playing Mock Trials Voir Dire (jury selection) Moot Court
The Art of the Litigation Process It is not only about the content and legal proceedings it is about articulation and writing compelling opening and closing statements. It is about convincing others that your side is the one to believe with your actions and voice tones.
Lawyers are Advocates • Conduct an interactive class advocacy exercise: • Split the class into groups of 4/5 students • Have each group determine the top 5 things they would like to see improved in their school • Each group selects an “advocate” to represent their 5 interests • The advocates from each group gather at the front of the classroom to determine the top 3 issues to be implemented. The advocates cannot receive assistance from their groups. On-lookers must remain silent. • A strict 10 minute time limit is enforced. • Debrief students on how they felt during the exercise. • Did their advocate cave to a stronger advocate? • How did it feel trying to speak for others?
Laying the Groundwork I start with a discussion about the different movies that the kids have seen and ask them to name some as well. I bring in select ones that have good opening statements, good closing statements, bad and good witness questioning and voir dire. http://www.texaslre.org/jury_game/jurygame_intro.html
My Cousin Vinny – is R Rated But – it has some really good examples of poor questioning of witnesses as well as an awful opening statement. To your right when the attorney was practically spitting on the jurors.
To Kill A Mockingbird There are many procedural errors in this moving, including leading the witness, but Atticus has a very powerful closing statement. Rainmaker has examples of leading a witness mistakes, and a nice closing argument as well.
Amistad Amistad has a particularly moving closing statement given by John Quincy Adams.
Good Opening Statements Not only does Runaway Jury have a good opening statement it also has a nice Voir Dire. It shows how a new legal profession – the jury consultant has gained notoriety in big trials.
Ready to Begin a Mock Trial Have your students give you the three roles that they would like to do in the order that they would like to do them. Attorney Witness Bailiff Court Reporter
Have your students read a scripted trial – and/or watch one, regardless of the age level
Pick out from the many role-playing trials available on-line Street Law has resources • http://www.streetlaw.org//en/Product.aspx?id=49 Classroom Law Project has a great collection of cases and other legal resources • http://www.classroomlaw.org/resources/mock-trials/ • There are mini-mock trials as well that are very short and really good if time is a real stress factor.
Traditional Mock Trial Size - 15 Defense Team 2-3 attorneys 3 witnesses 1 bailiff ProsecutionTeam 2-3 attorneys 3 witnesses 1 timer I always held 2 trials because of large class sizes. Each trial team became the jury for the other team.
Make sure you time your trial – and example might be 5 minutes per side for opening statements = 10 minutes 15 minutes total for each side to question all witnesses = 30 minutes 5 minutes per side for closing statements = 10 minutes 1o minutes for jury deliberation = 10 minutes 10 minutes at least for debrief – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – do not skip = 10 minutes Total trial time for block schedule = 70 minutes (it will probably talk the whole 90 minutes)
An Appeal to the Jury Decision and Judge Sentencing – leads to . . . Moot Court
Moot Court Pick Supreme Court Cases – or cases that you have to cover based upon curriculum requirements Pair students 2 for each side of the argument Students will need to be given short fact statements on the cases. http://www.streetlaw.org/en/landmark.aspx
Select Student Judges – uneven number The side against the ruling will speak first for 2-5 minutes Judges can question within reason Have the side defending the ruling speak 2-5 minutes Judges can question within reason Side against the ruling can rebut the defending side Judges can question within reason Side against the ruling can rebut the overturning side Judges can question within reason Judges adjourn to make decision
Lastly! JUST DO IT! After trying it once you will get hooked.
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