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R. v. Wyler Mock Trial Kit

Lesson One: Trials and the Principles of the Criminal Justice System

Rationale
This lesson is designed to provide background information on fundamental principles of criminal justice, the purpose of criminal trials, and the roles of court officials.

Procedure
1. As a class, brainstorm what is known about courts and trials. Portrayals in fiction, the news, and/or personal experience may be some sources to draw upon. This list will be returned to at the lesson’s close.

2. As a class, lead group reading of The Criminal Justice System.

KEY QUESTIONS

  • Why must a Judge be impartial?
  • Why do Judges and Juries only make their decisions after all the evidence is heard?
  • Why is the Accused presumed innocent?
  • Why is it important that if an Accused is convicted, Judges have some discretion in what their sentence will be?
  • Teachers may wish to distribute copies of the Glossary to students. It will be useful for this and subsequent readings and activities.

3. To understand the roles of court officials, break students into groups to review People in the Courtroom. As a summary, students can play “Who Am I?” to identify each official.

4. Review original brainstorming session as a class, using the following questions:
What did you know about courts and trials that was true?
Were any misconceptions about courts and trials cleared up?
What do you still want to learn about courts and trials?

FURTHER EXPLORATION
5. Teachers wishing to build better understandings of the origins and creation of laws may be interested in The PLEA, Vol. 33 No. 1, The Rule of Law.

The Criminal Justice System

Handout

People in the Courtroom

Handout

Albert Camus' The Plague: The Learning Resource