Lesson Plans - Law

"Buying the Competition"   - Simplified Mock Trial

Lesson Plan:

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

Buying the Competiton
Editors note: The facts in the case are based on these two articles: Google: Microsoft Deal Bad for Internet AP   and Microsoft Touts Benefit of Yahoo Deal AP
Editors note: this case asks what constitutes fair competition?

DURATION: 1 class period

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

AUTHOR: Keerock Rook, The Learning Foundation

At the end of this lesson, students should be able to...
• identify the process for settling a legal dispute (how are the facts of the case presented; how is the dispute resolved)
• identify key players in a legal dispute (who presents the facts; who makes the final decision)
• determine what makes a decision fair.
Small group deliberation in simplified mock-trial format; class is divided into three groups for mock trial; groups of three, one each acting as judge, accused and accuser, for review discussion.
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 a trial.
Beginning with a cast of three 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 a trial is to settle a dispute between two people, the two parties are given an opportunity to present their side of the story to a judge. With the final authority resting with him/her, the judge takes some time to clarify issues with each party and then makes a decision that is seen to be fair to each party.
Without distinguishing between civil and criminal issues, this lesson illustrates the essentials of our adversary system: that each party is allowed to tell his/her side of the story, that the judge is the person with the authority to settle the dispute, that a fair decision is presented with reasons supporting that decision.
RECOMMENDED STUDENT MATERIALS: Copies of facts for accused and accuser; copies of Steps in the Trial for the judges.

Prepare fact sheets for the accused and accuser groups to read before beginning their trial. Make copies of the
Steps in the Trial for distribution to the judges group.
• Divide the class into three groups; each group represents the judge, the accuser, or the accused.
• Give fact sheets to the accused and the accuser groups, but not to the judge group. Give a copy of the Steps in the Trial to the judge group.
• Allow time for the groups to discuss their strategy: who will present their case, and how they will present their side of the story. Each group should choose a spokesperson to represent them in the trial.
• Follow the Steps in the Trial described below.
• Time permitting, repeat the trial with a different set of students representing each side of the story and the judge.
• Talk as a class about the trial(s) and the results. Ask for reactions to each role: how did it feel to be the judge, the accused, the accuser?
• Review the objectives for other teaching points.
Fact Situation:
Google argues that if Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo succeeds Microsoft will be able to stifle innovation and leverage its dominating Windows operating system to set up personal computers so consumers are automatically steered to online services, such as e-mail and instant messaging, controlled by the world's largest software maker.
If they get together, Microsoft and Yahoo would have about 16 percent of the world wide Internet search market -- still far behind Google's 62 percent share, according to comScore Media Metrix. But Microsoft and Yahoo already are far bigger than Google in e-mail and instant messaging, and conceivably would be in a better position to squash rival services if they combined.
Google pointed to the way Microsoft previously used Windows to help extend the reach of its Web browser and other applications -- a strategy that triggered a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit alleging the software maker illegally used its operating system to stifle competition. The dispute ended with a 2002 settlement that required Microsoft to abandon some of its past practices. Would Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of influence over the Internet that it did with the PC?
Therefore, Google asks the acquisition be stopped.
Microsoft answered, that the acquisition raises competition, rather than eliminates it, in the Web advertising market. Google's clearly got a dominant position with about 75 percent of paid search world wide.
Preventing Microsoft from buying Yahoo would undermine competition by allowing Google to become even more dominant than it already is on the Internet.
Microsoft says the Yahoo deal would make Microsoft a "strong No. 2" competitor against Google, and the deal should be allowed.
Steps in the Trial
1. Let the Google (the accuser) tell her/his side of the story.
2. Let the Microsoft (the accused) tell her/his side of the story.
3. Let the judge ask the Google and Microsoft questions.
4. Give the judge a few minutes to think.
5. Let the judge make a decision that is fair.
6. Let the judge explain his or her reasons.

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 trial, that presents each side of the story and the judge's decision, with reasons.

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 The Learning Foundation Simplified Mock Trials.

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