Lesson 2: Criminal Investigation and Forensics

Activities

Pre-Activity

Assign the reading of Handout 1: Evidence in Court for homework.

Activity 1: The Collection of Evidence for Regina vs. Feeney – Role Play

Discuss and highlight important parts of Handout 1: Evidence in Court before doing Part A and B below.

Part A 

Have your students read the Handout 2: Regina vs. Feeney. Divide your class into three groups; one group will play the role of crown counsel, one group will play the role of defence counsel and one group will act as the judge sitting on the voir dire with respect to the evidence presented.  

Crown Counsel 

What forensic evidence would you present to the judge via voir dire in Michael Feeney’s murder trial in 1992 and why? Which pieces do you think might not go to the jury?

Defence Counsel  

What would you argue in Michael Feeney’s defence? Which forensic evidence would you object to and why?   

Judge

Look at the list of evidence carefully so you will be prepared to make an appropriate decision in this voir dire as to which pieces will go before the jury.

Ask a representative from both the crown counsel and the defence counsel to give submissions to the judge on each piece of evidence. Ask the judge to make a decision as to its admissibility at the trial. Lead a class discussion on the judge’s decisions. Compare what happens to what happened in the actual case.

Part B 

Assume that Michael Feeney was convicted of second-degree murder by a jury at his trial in 1992. He appeals this conviction to the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and finally, the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada orders a new trial, deciding that all of the evidence found by the police in Michael’s trailer was obtained illegally and must be excluded. 

  1. Discuss why you think the Supreme Court of Canada decided that the evidence found in Michael Feeney’s trailer was obtained illegally and must be excluded.
  2. Assume that you are Crown counsel. Now that all of the evidence found by the police in Michael Feeney’s trailer must be excluded, what remaining pieces of forensic evidence would you present to the jury at Michael Feeney’s second trial in 1999, and why? Note that modern DNA testing is widely available in Canada since the mid-1990s.
  3. Now assume that you are a member of the defence team. What would you argue in Michael Feeney’s defence?

Activity 2: Forensics Jeopardy  

Provide students with Handout 3: Forensic Science. After they have finished reading it, divide your class into six groups. Assign each group one of the following topics:  

  • Forensic biology 
  • Forensic pathology 
  • Forensic entomology 
  • Forensic chemistry/toxicology 
  • Forensic counterfeits and documents 
  • Forensic firearms identification (ballistics) 

Ask the students to study their section and create at least 10 questions with answers related to their topic for the Jeopardy game. Each question should be assigned a value of $200.00, $400.00, $600.00, $800.00, or $1,000.00. Students should word the questions and answers in Jeopardy game format. For example:

Q: This person works in a lab and processes specimens that are brought to him/her by the police. ($200.00)
A: Who is the Forensic Biologist?  

They can use the Internet to gather more information if they wish. Ask them to ensure the material is Canadian. Bonus marks can be given to any student who records the Jeopardy music to play in class or hums it before answering a question.