- Distribute copies of the handout no vehicles in the park. Then divide the class into groups of approximately six students.
- Before starting, explain the key terms…
- interpretation: To interpret a law is to apply it to a new fact situation. The interpreter looks at the written words of the law and decides how they apply to a particular fact situation.
- intent: The intent of a law is the purpose and effect of the law-makers had in mind when they made it
- letter of the law: This phrase refers to a strict interpretation of the law; exactly what the law says, not what was meant by the word.
- Each group is to look at each of the seven situations described and decide if the law has been broken. Students should record their answers. The groups should be ready to discuss their reasoning in each case.
- After the groups have gone through the list, have them report their decisions on each case. Once you have completed all the cases, the class should be asking questions about the meaning of the law and how a vehicle is defined. If not, you can add your own cases, including roller skates, wagons, wheel chairs, and other such things.
- Further discussion may include..
● Why would a community want a law about vehicles in the park?
● What is the purpose of a park and how does the law protect that purpose? (a park is meant to preserve an element of nature and is a place for recreation. The law removes the danger of traffic so that no one has to worry about traffic while playing or relaxing.)
- Students will become aware that it is not always easy to make a judgment. Point out that it is important to look carefully at the purpose or intent of the law, as well as the letter or exact wording of the law. As a judge in each case, students need to be fair to both sides
- After giving the class time to think about each case, discuss how a lawyer or a judge involved in these cases would (1) consider the wording of the law, (2) consider the facts of the case, and (3) use common sense. They might also do research to see if there have been any other cases about this law or a similar law. If, for example, there were a case reported in the law books in which a judge said that the usual meaning of “vehicle” is a means of carrying or trans porting something, and does not include a skateboard, a lawyer might use that case to defend the senior citizen in case 6.
No Vehicles in the Park Handout