RULE OF LAW CASE STUDY: This activity connects directly to the classroom video that the students will view on the day of the visit. During the video, Chief Justice Hassell recalls a case in which a female public school teacher accidentally brought a gun to school. She was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison for possession of a firearm on school property, a felony. Several days before the visitation, prepare students with the following activity:
Day 1 – When students arrive, select one female student to be the defendant; select a team of students to be the defense team; select a team of students to serve as the prosecution; and elect one to three students to serve as judges (you may also want to appoint a court stenographer and a bailiff). The rest of the class will serve as the jury. The rest of the day should be spent making sure the students understand the charges against the defendant and allowing students time to research and review their respective responsibilities. This part may require library/online research.
Day 2- Time should be allotted for the defense and prosecution to prepare their cases. The judge(s) and jury should consider the options their roles entail given the different findings that are possible. You may want to have your guest lawyer “consult” with them on this day. Depending on the length of your class, you may want to proceed to the trial, being sure to create a courtroom setting to add to the reality of the situation. If the period is short, you may want to schedule the trial for the next day.
Day 3 – The trial begins, continues, ends. The jurors consider the evidence and render their verdict. The judge(s) declare(s) the sentence. Students and teacher debrief the results and use this as a springboard for the visitation. d. Note – This activity requires students to write opening and closing remarks to the jury, to study proper courtroom protocol, to speak clearly and correctly, and to develop logical arguments in support of their position. See file below for final Virginia State Supreme Court decision.
SOLS: CE. 1a, d, e, h – TSW develop the social studies skills citizenship requires, including the ability to (a) examine and interpret primary and secondary source documents; (d) distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information; (e) review information for accuracy, separating fact from opinion; (g) select and defend a position in writing, discussion and debate. CE. 2a – TSW … demonstrate knowledge of the foundation of American constitutional government by explaining the fundamental principles of… the rule of law….