Lesson Plans - Law

The Case of  "The Stolen Comic Book"



Lesson Plan:


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

DESCRIPTION: This is a two part Simplified Mock Trial based on a fictional life experience in Thailand:

Mock Trial about child stealling

"The Stolen Comic Book"
"Slanted News"

DURATION: 2 class periods (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 settling a criminal dispute (how are the facts of the case presented; how is the dispute resolved)
• identify key players in a criminal dispute trial and the roles they play in settling the dispute.

FORMAT:

Small group deliberation in simple mock-trial format; groups of six, one each acting as judge, clerk, prosecutor, witness, accused, and defence counsel.

BACKGROUND:
In this lesson, as we consider a criminal case, we see that the state is bringing charges against an individual for committing an offence that is considered a wrong to society as a whole. If found guilty, the accused person will be punished.
This time, both the "state" and the "accused" are represented by lawyers. The lawyer for the state is called the "prosecutor;" the lawyer for the accused is called the defence counsel.

The prosecutor performs a role slightly different from that of any other lawyer. S/He is not seeking a conviction at all costs; rather, his or her duty is to put before the court all the available evidence, even though it may be favourable to the accused.
The witnesses in criminal trials will vary, depending on the case. The witness could be a police officer, the victim, or anyone else who saw the incident.
In our lesson, the accused will be a witness, but in real trials the accused does not have to give evidence. No negative inference should be drawn if the accused is not called.
Remember that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore if the crown, or state, cannot gather together enough evidence to prove its case, the case will be dismissed without the accused ever having to give evidence.
RECOMMENDED STUDENT MATERIALS:

Copies of fact sheets for the accused, the accuser and the witness (the securtiy guard). Make copies of the
Steps in the Trial for judges and court clerks, in each case.

RECOMMENDED TEACHER PREPARATION:

Review all the materials. If need to, contact local public legal education organizations for assistance. Make copies of student handouts for all participants.

CLASSROOM STRATEGIES:
Procedure:
• Divide the class into groups of six: judge (J), crown prosecutor (CP), crown witness (CW), accused (A), defence counsel (DC), and court clerk (C).

OR

• An alternative would be to divide the whole class into six groups, naming each as judge, crown prosecutor, crown witness, accused, defence counsel , and court clerk. Each group could choose a spokesperson (or several spokespersons) to represent them in the trial.

• Depending on class size and time allotted, trials could be held consecutively or concurrently. If you choose to run the trials consecutively, you will need much more time. If you choose to run the trials concurrently, you will need more adult supervision and possibly more classroom space.

• Give fact sheet to the crown witness and the accused, but not to the judge. Give a copy of the Steps in the Trial to the judge and the court clerk. Allow some time for facts and roles to be memorized. Only the judge should have paper in hand, in order to lead the process.

• Allow each group to set themselves up like a courtroom, by moving desks or chairs, according to this diagram.

• For each fact situation, follow the Steps in the Trial described below. Notice that this time, the lawyers move directly from the questioning phase of the trial to their summations, or arguments.

• After the trial is over, talk as a class about the trial and its result. Using the learning objectives and background, compare and contrast civil and criminal trials.

• Review the learning objectives and background notes for other teaching points.
Fact Situation:
Tip was ten years old and loved comic books.

- He went with his friends to the Mall bookstore everyday to look for any new comic books.
- His mother didn't give him money to buy comic books.
- But, every day he and his friends would get together and compare what they had taken from the shops they visited.
- They also shared stories about how scared they were when they stole.
- The most popular stories among the group were about how they narrowly escaped being caught.
Nok, who was a clerk in the Mall bookstore, also loved comic books and felt lucky that she was able to see the new comic books as soon as they came to the store.

- But the day after a new comic book came to the store was hard for her, because a group of kids who often came to the store, would try to take new comic books without paying.
- The manager blamed her if that happened.

It was Saturday and the new adventure comic which had arrived on Friday was on the shelf.

- Nok had seen Tip in the store many times and thought he was one of the kids taking comic books without paying, so she kept an eye on him.
- As she was taking payment from another customer she looked into the overhead mirror and saw Tip put a comic book intto his pants so it couldn't be seen.
- Tip walked out of the store and Nok asked the other clerk to finish checking out the customer, while she went after Tip.
- Nok caught up with Tip next to a policeman and asked Tip to stop.
- She explained to the policeman that she had seen Tip put a comic book into his pants and would she/he check.
- The policeman asked Tip to show what he had in his pants and found the new adventure comic book.
- Tip told the policeman that he had bought the comic book the day before and the receipt was at home.
- Nok said this comic book only arrived at the store today, so Tip was lying.
- "What do you want to do?" The policeman asked Nok.
- Nok said: “If he doesn’t learn what he is doing is wrong now, he will keep doing it, and I think he is one of the gang of kids that do this all the time.”
- She asked the policeman to take Tip into custody and that she would file a complaint.

Tip’s mother was called to pick Tip up in the Police Station because he had been caught stealing and a complaint had been filed.

The policeman explained that Tip would have to go to court and answer to the charge of theft.
Tip’s mother complained that Tip was only ten years old, and that it wasn't fair.
Steps in the Trial

1. Court clerk calls the Witness (the store clerk) to the witness stand and administers the oath by saying,
"Do you promise to tell the truth as you know it concerning this matter?" The store clerk replies, "I do."
The Thai version of this is: "Do agree that if you do not tell the truth that you will have bad luck immediately!"
2. Direct Examination: Prosecutor questions the store clerk, trying to establish all the facts proving the accused committed the offence of theft.

3. Cross Examination: Defence counsel questions the store clerk, trying to point out inconsistencies or gaps in the story.

4. The Judge allows the store clerk to leave the witness box.

5. Court clerk calls the next Witness (the policeman) to the witness stand and administers the oath by saying,
"Do you promise to tell the truth as you know it concerning this matter?" The store clerk replies, "I do."
The Thai version of this is: "Do agree that if you do not tell the truth that you will have bad luck immediately!"
6. Direct Examination: Prosecutor questions the policeman trying to establish all the facts proving the accused committed the offence of theft.

7. Cross Examination: Defence counsel questions the policeman, trying to point out inconsistencies or gaps in the story.

8. The Judge allows the policeman to leave the witness box.

9. Court clerk calls the accused (Tip) to the Witness stand and administers the oath.

10. Direct Examination: Defence counsel questions the accused, trying to bring out any points which may show the accused is not guilty of the offence.

11. Cross Examination: The Prosecutor questions the accused, trying to show his story should not be believed.

12. The Judge permits the accused to leave the witness box.

13. Defence counsel sums up the evidence, showing that the accused should be acquitted.

14. The Prosecutor sums up the evidence showing the accused did commit the offence.

15. The Judge decides:
(a) if the accused is guilty of the crime;
(b) if so, what sentence to give the accused
and why this sentence is fair.

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 trial, 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 Lessons.

The Case of the Stolen Comic Book - A Simplified Mock Trial based on the Canada School Net Simplified Mock Trial Design.


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