Lesson Plans - Law

"Only One Way to Think"  - The Simplified Mock Trial

Lesson Plan:

GRADE(S): 6 - 12 (or older grades inexperienced with mock trials)


VotingVote this way
Editors note: This case encourages students to examine the rights of the majority of voters to be respresented by the government they elect.
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:

Editors note: The following statements were sited in the articles Politics in Thailand returns to the streets - By Thomas Fuller - The International Herald Tribune.
Somaska Kosasik is one of the leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy, which organised the demonstrations of the past week.
"The government didn't win the vote among educated people," said Somsak Kosaisook, The poor and uneducated were "trapped" into voting for the government, he said.
Update: The leaders of the so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have already said that they would not accept a parliamentary solution to the crisis. In addition to demanding that Samak resign, they want an overhaul of Thailand's system of government, saying only 30 percent of seats in parliament should be elected (so 7 out of ten Thai voters will not be allowed to vote), with the rest appointed.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak is a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University.
He says the current round of anti-government protests is different from those of previous years and could set a "bad precedent" for Thailand. They were not provoked by an imminent crisis and, unlike in earlier decades, the protesters were trying to bring down a democratically elected government, not militaryrulers. "It's a dangerous trend," Thitinansaid. "I'm not a fan of the PPP," he said of the governing party, "but you have an elected government, and you have 10,000 people taking to the streets who want to overthrowit."
Steps in the Trial
1. Let Thitinan Pongsudhirak (the accuser) tell her/his side of the story.
2. Let Somaska Kosasik (the accused) tell her/his side of the story.
3. Let the judge ask Thitinan Pongsudhirak and Somaska Kosasik 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.

Related cases:
"It's my country/I can do what I want!" - Simplified Mock Trial Lesson Plan.
"The 18th Thai constitution?" - What makes a law good lesson plan.

"Only One Way to Think" - A Simplified Mock Trial based on the Canada School Net Simplified Mock Trial Design.

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