Lesson Plans - Law

Appealing a lower court opinion:


GRADE(S): 9 - 12 (or older grades inexperienced with mock trials)

DESCRIPTION: This Simplified Mock Trial encourages students to examine the issue of subsidizing fuel costs. The facts are based on a Bangkok Post article describing a ruling by the Thai Central Administrative Court to freeze bus fares in Bangkok while it considered a consumer groups case against private bus operators.
The Case of:  The Road Builder vs The Sales Company

GRADE(S): 9 - 12 (or older grades inexperienced with mock trials)

DESCRIPTION: This Simplified Mock Trial encourages students to examine the issue of subsidizing fuel costs. The facts are based on a Bangkok Post article describing a ruling by the Thai Central Administrative Court to freeze bus fares in Bangkok while it considered a consumer groups case against private bus operators.
Lesson Plan:

Bus conductor
DURATION: 1 class period (45 minutes each)

LANGUAGE: English (can easily be adapted to the language of the classroom)



AUTHOR: Keerock Rook, The Learning Foundation

LEARNING OBJECTIVE(S):
At the end of this lesson, students should be able to...
• identify the process for appealing a lower court opinion (how are the facts of the case presented; how is the dispute resolved.)
• identify key players in the Appeal (who presents the facts; who makes the final decision.)
• determine what makes a decision fair.
FORMAT:
Small group deliberation in simplified mock-trial format; class is divided into four groups (two groups to compare the facts of the trial and those in the appeal and two groups comparing laws and rules involved in the trail and those raised in the appeal. Groups of three students, each acting as appeal court judges.
BACKGROUND:
A full-scale mock trial can be an intimidating prospect for an elementary classroom-both for teacher and students. This lesson plan for a simplified mock-trial provides an opportunity to experience the fundamentals of an appeal.
Beginning with a cast of two characters, students will develop skills that will lead them safely into more complicated cases.
The basic tenets of the lesson include those items covered in the learning objectives.
Understanding that the purpose of an appeal is to settle a dispute between two people, the two people were given an opportunity to present their side of the story to a judge. The judge made his or her decision, and one of the people didn't agree with that opinion and wishes to appeal to a higher court.
Without distinguishing between civil and criminal issues, this lesson illustrates the essentials of our adversary system: that each party can challenge a lower court opinion and is allowed to present their reasons in writing to be considered by an independent group of judges.

RECOMMENDED STUDENT MATERIALS:

Copies of facts from the original trial Appealing a Lower Court Opinion - The Case of: "Freezing Bus Fares"

RECOMMENDED TEACHER PREPARATION:
The fact situation given here is based on a news report in Thailand. There may have been a real incident in your classroom that would be a good substitute. Develop roles that are gender-free and easily used by males or females.
Prepare fact sheets for all the Appeals Court Judges to read before beginning their discussion.
• Make copies of the Steps in the Appeal for distribution to the judges groups.
CLASSROOM STRATEGIES:
• Divide the class into two groups to examine and compare the facts in the case to what the Administrative Court ruled and what the Private bus operators argued was wrong.
• Give fact sheets to each group.
• Allow time for the groups to discuss their strategy: who will present arguments and reasons the facts support the Lower Court's ruling and those who are against the ruling. Each group should choose a spokesperson to represent them in the Appeal.
• Follow the Steps in the Trial described below.
• Time permitting, repeat the trial with a different set of students representing for and against the Administrative Court's ruling.
• Talk as a class about the Appeal (s) and the results. Ask for reactions to each role: how did it feel to argue against the Administrative Court's ruling, how did it feel to support it?
• Review the objectives for other teaching points.
Fact Situation:

The Administrative Court ordered a freeze of bus fares in Bangkok while it considered a consumer groups case against private bus operators.
The Consumer Group had charged that bus fare increases were unfair and should not be allowed because the private operators are still posting operating profits and that many of the buses have already been converted to run on natural gas for vehicles (NGV).
The Private bus operators ask the Court of Appeals to stop the order to freeze fares until the Administrative Court examines the facts in the case.
They asked the Court of Appeals to consider:

•   Oil prices have been rising for months causing the cost of operating both private and public transportation fuels to rise.

•   That mass transportation provides a choice to consumers who cannot or do not wish to pay the added cost of private transportation, yet both public and privately run mass transportation need enough income to function.

•   The rise in fares reflected the rise in gasoline and diesel costs that had to be paid by both public and private bus operators. However, on Sunday, May 24th, Bangkok bus fares rose by between one baht and 1.50 baht, but the Transport Ministry ordered the state-run BMTA to freeze its fares to help commuters.

•   The decision of the Transport Ministry was to have the government pay for the cost increase so as to help commuters.

•   Private bus operators kept the fare increases because they will not receive the subsidies given to the state-run BMTA, but still have to pay the added cost of fuel to run their buses.

•   Private bus operators were still in trouble because commuters had opted to travel on state-run buses that had frozen their fares.

•   The Consumer Group's claim that most buses now run on natural gas is inaccurate. Of more than 10,000 private buses in greater Bangkok, just 1,700 have been modified to run on NGV.

•   The ruling by the Administrative Court to freeze the fares places the entire burden of absorbing the added cost of fuel costs on the private bus companies and assumes that the facts presented by the Consumer Group are correct before examining them.

Therefore the Private bus operators ask the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling by the Administrative Court until the facts in the case are examined.


Steps in the Appeal
1. Three judges review the order suspending fare increases of the Adminustrative Court and Private bus operators answer to that order. Appeal Facts in the Case of "Freezing bus fares".
3. Each Judge gives their opinion and reasons to either: let the Lower Court Opinion stand or to reject it.
4. A majority vote (two or more of the judges) decides the outcome of the case.

ASSESSMENT: Lead whole-class summation discussion based on the objectives stated earlier. Older students might be given a written assignment. In groups of three, one representing each role, prepare a one page summary of the Appeal, that presents each side of the story and the judge's decision, with reasons.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE:
Try another of the mock-trial lesson plans, or develop your own based on a situation from current events in the community or the classroom. Write your own fact situation and adapt the Steps in the Trial accordingly. Some other lessons continue with three roles in each trial; some more complicated situations, for trials of six characters, add clerk and two lawyers. Refer to the Canada School Net Bibliography on Mock Trial Materials for reference or LFS Law and Society Lesson Plans.
Appealing a Lower Court Opinion - The Case of: "Freezing Bus Fares" - A Simplified Mock Trial based on the Canada School Net Simplified Mock Trial Design.


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