Lesson Plan (PDF)
There are many people involved in trials and each of these people has a specific role. The court personnel include the judge, jury, and legal counsel. A court clerk assists the judge and records the trial. A sheriff may also be present in order to transport prisoners and protect those who are in court. Other people in court can include the accused, witnesses, media gallery, and the public. In a courtroom, there is a specific spot designated to each of these people.
Upon completion of this lesson students will:
- Understand what the roles of court personnel, such as judges, jurors, legal counsel, court clerk, and sheriff
- Learn how judges are appointed and how jurors are selected
- Become familiar with how to find formal case reports online
- Know the roles of other people in court, such as the accused and witnesses
- Be able to identify where court personnel and other participants sit in a criminal courtroom
- How does one become a judge?
- What role do judges have?
- How are jurors selected and what are their responsibilities?
- What is the role of legal counsel?
- Why are court clerks and sheriffs important in court?
- What is the role of the accused in court?
- What is the importance of witnesses?
- What are some different types of witnesses?
Topic 1: Judge
Students will read Handout 1: Appointment and Role of Judges before beginning the lesson. They will look at formal case reports for two cases where a driver hit a pedestrian. They will compare the two cases and answer some discussion questions. Students can do this independently or as a class. Students will then look at and discuss the reports from the trial court and Court of Appeal case for Regina vs. Kelly Ellard.
Topic 2: Jury
Students will read Handout 2: Jury Role and Selection and complete an exercise in which they must differentiate between statements that are facts and opinions. Students will look at a car crash scenario and will be challenged to see how many details they can remember. This will give them some idea of how difficult it is to be a juror.
Topic 3: Legal Counsel
Students will be introduced to this topic by reading Handout 4: Legal Counsel and deciding whether questions would be considered leading or not. They will be asked to come up with their own examples. Handout 5: I Object! can be used to give the students some practice in making objections.
Topic 4: Court Clerk and Sheriff
Students will read Handout 6: Court Clerk and Sheriff to gain an understanding of the role that they have in court.
Topic 5: Other People in Court
Handout 7: Other People in Court can be given to students to read. With the help of someone unknown to the students, you will stage a robbery in class. Students will then be asked to fill out a robbery suspect description form, and then discuss it as a class. This exercise will give students an idea of what some of the difficulties in being a witness as they fill out Handout 8: Robbery Suspect Description Form.