Welcome to the Courtroom!
After introductions and a discussion of classroom etiquette, I provided a broad overview of what it means to participate in a mock trial. I explained to students that they will be imitating real courtroom and trial procedures - cases based on fairy tales and literature - where students will assume the roles of actual trial participants. These will not be scripted dramas, but rather the statements, presentations, questions and answers that students create themselves based on research, facts and collection of evidence.
One of the most exciting aspects of this process is that the outcome of each and every trial - guilt or innocence - will hinge on how the students are able to bring each case to life!
the balance - weighing evidence
the sword - delivering punishment
the blindfold - objectivity, also known as the concept of “blind justice”.
Students began to see that justice is in fact a complex concept involving rights, laws, and the interpretation of laws. Much more to come on this as we proceed through the semester!
- the Legislative Branch makes laws,
- the Executive Branch enforces laws, and
- the Judicial Branch interprets laws. <--- this is the branch we will be learning about!
I explained to students that there are two types of trials - criminal and civil - and that they will be engaged in both types during this class.
- Civil cases involve conflicts over private rights of individuals or groups.
- Criminal cases involve violations of criminal laws which local, state, or federal governments have enacted.
- I sent students home with a handout that explains the Roles/Participants in a trial. We will expand on responsibilities of each participant as we move forward in our class and prepare for our first mock trial. For next week, they should just read over this handout to prepare for a simple card game we'll play at the beginning of class to test their knowledge. Make sure you know your plaintiff from your bailiff!
- Students should also view this iCivics video that provides an overview of the judicial branch.
We're off to a fantastic start - I love the enthusiasm of this group! See you all next Monday!