Lesson 4: Legal Independence and the Rule of Law


Activity 1: The Rule of Law

Provide students with Handout 1: Rules and Laws. They can complete some of the handout as the discussion proceeds, and complete the rest as homework.

Begin with writing the word “law” on the board. Ask students to brainstorm and come up with other words that come to mind when they see the word “law” on the board. Write down responses. State the following: Laws are like rules: for example, sports have rules and there are penalties for breaking the rules.

See Answer Key for Handout 1 in the Assessment section.

Activity 2: Legal Independence Quiz Game

Have students read Handout 2: The Rule of Law and Judicial Independence and Handout 3: Lawyer Independence before beginning the game

The game similar in concept to the television game show “Jeopardy” (i.e. students are given answers and asked to provide the relevant questions). The five-minute game sees how much your students have absorbed by reading the Student Handouts. You can provide students with the questions on Handout 4: Legal Independence Quiz Game for the students to complete individually or you can have the whole class play the game collectively.

See Answer Key for Handout 4 in the Assessment section.

Activity 3: Legal Independence Video

For this activity you will be pausing the video in four places:

  • First Discussion: Part way through Scene 2
  • Second Discussion: At the end of Scene 2
  • Third Discussion: At the end of Scene 3
  • Final Discussion: At the end of the video

The Handout 5: First Discussion, Handout 6: Second Discussion, Handout 7: Third Discussion and Handout 8: Final Discussion contain questions for discussion with students at each stop. You may ask the students to answer the questions individually or in groups or you may prefer to discuss them orally.

When you distribute the Discussion handouts to your students, you should only distribute the sheet that is relevant to each stop as it is reached.

See Answer Key for Handouts 5-8 in the Assessment section.

First Discussion: Scene 2 -School Field

  • Discussion: Talk about this scene with your students, keeping in mind the rule of law. A worksheet with the questions to discuss follows
  • Prediction: Ask students to predict what will happen next
  • Start the DVD

Second Discussion: End of Scene 2 - School Field

  • Discussion: Talk about the arrest, stressing the points that everyone must obey the law, that no one is above the law and everyone is treated equally under the law (rule of law).The questions on the worksheet may assist in stimulating discussion
  • Ask students to answer the questions
  • Student Biographies: Ask your students to review the backgrounds of the students in the vignette before moving on to the next activity
  • Lawyers’ Advice: Ask students to talk about or write down the advice they would offer their client in response to the comments of Michael, Candace and Justin.
  • Start the DVD: Listen to the advice that the lawyers gave to their respective clients and compare it to the students’ responses during the next discussion.

Third Discussion: End of Scene 3 – Police Interview Rooms

  • Discussion: Talk about the views (possibly misconceptions) students have about the justice system and the roles of judges and lawyers in that system. The worksheet sets out questions for discussion
  •  Ask students to answer the questions
  • Start the DVD

Final Discussion: End of Scene 5 - Interview with a Teacher

  • Discussion: Talk about the reason for the decision in this particular case.

Activity 4: Legal Independence Case Studies

For this activity there are two case studies. The first case study, Smith vs. Jones, relates to judicial independence and the second case study, Judges in Nazi Germany relates to lawyer independence.

Divide your classes into two groups and provide one group with Handout 9: Smith vs. Jones and the other group with Handout 10: Judges in Nazi Germany. Each of the groups will discuss the case that has been assigned to them and will work together to complete the questions. Afterwards, a speaker (or speakers) from each group will discuss their case study with the class.

Activity 5: Test Your Knowledge

You can assess your students to see how much they have learned by having them complete Handout 11: Legal Independence Test.

See Answer Key for Handout 11 in the Assessment section.