Lesson 5: Court Personnel


Topic 1: Judge

You can watch the videos on www.tryjudging.ca , a website designed and produced by the Public Education Committee of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association. There are several scenarios for you to explore and to think critically about.

Topic 2: Jury

  1. What do you think would be the hardest part of being on the jury in a civil case? Explain your answer in one short paragraph by using an example.
  2. Compare and contrast the jury selection practice in the USA and Canada. Use the Internet to find out how the selection is made and how the lawyers prepare for it in a criminal case in the USA. Do you think it makes any difference to the outcome of the case? Explain why.
  3. Draw a diagram that illustrates the jury selection process in Canada. You can do a step-by-step process or you could draw the courtroom and what it looks like when the selection is being made.
  4. Why does a judge use a gavel in the USA and not in Canada? Research the topic and do a short oral report for the class.
  5. Day in the Life of a Juror: Interview someone who has been on a jury and prepare six questions to ask the juror during the course of your interview. Hand in the questions and answers you received. Prepare a short speech to present to the class about what a juror’s day is like.
  6. Have students look at a recent high-profile case. Full case reports can be found on the Courts of British Columbia website www.courts.gov.bc.ca. They can then compare the case report to media reports on the same case. They will perform the following:
  • Identify the important sections of a case report
  • Read and critically evaluate media reports of a case
  • Note the difference in purpose and tone between media reports and case reports
  • Recognize the importance of reading a case report before forming an opinion on a case

If you are interested in a script of a Criminal Jury Selection Simulation contact the Law Courts Education Society in the following areas:

  • Vancouver Law Courts (604) 660-2919
  • Lower Mainland West (604) 775-2524
  • Lower Mainland East (604) 572-2276
  • Interior Region (Kamloops) (250) 828-4662
  • Interior Region (Kelowna) (250) 470-6965
  • Northern Region (Prince George) (250) 614-2736

Topic 4: Legal Counsel

  1. If possible, interview a Crown or defence lawyer or use the notes you took when you had a Crown or defence lawyer as a guest speaker. Prepare a list of questions and answers that could be used as a quiz for the class. Be sure to leave space after each question for the answer, and prepare an answer key for your quiz.
  2. Do some research into the types of training lawyers are required to have in order to practice law. Write your results up in a short report to be presented orally to the class. Try to include some specific facts.
  3. What is "legal aid"? Write a short report on what it is and who qualifies for it. Do you think the lawyer does a poor job because s/he is being paid by legal aid? Explain your answer.
  4. Debate: Ethically it is more difficult to be defence counsel than Crown counsel. In groups of two, prepare to defend this position as defence counsel and to counter it as Crown counsel. Present the debate to the class and ask them to make a decision.

Topic 5: Other People in Court

  1. What’s It Like to Be a Witness? Set your classroom up like a courtroom and invite someone who has testified at a trial to be your guest speaker. Have the person talk about his/her experience from the "witness stand" in your courtroom (classroom). If you are not able to find a guest then have one of the students act as a witness. You can use one of the scenarios from Criminal or Civil Law. Have the student testify in the classroom. Ask the "witness" questions both on direct and cross-examination. After the demonstration you can ask your guest speaker or the student to comment on the following questions:

    • Were you well prepared to testify in the case?
    • Did your evidence affect the outcome of the case or not?
    • How did you feel before and after testifying?
    • What are some of the qualities that you think a good witness needs?
    • How did you feel during the cross-examination?
    • Where did you wait before you gave evidence?
    • Would you be a witness again? Why or why not?
  1. Do some research on polygraph evidence to find out what qualifications an expert in that field would need in order to testify. Is this type of evidence admissible in Canadian courts?
  1. Find out how a witness subpoena is issued, who serves the witness subpoenas, and how that is done. What are the consequences if a witness ignores the subpoena? Write a short paragraph about what you have discovered.
  2. Research the witness protection program in Canada. Make a short written or oral report to the class.