In American Government, we’ve spent the semester diving into each of the three branches of government—first legislative, then executive, and now we’ve finished up studying the judicial branch.
To give students a feel for the real-life intricacies and procedures of a courtroom, we ran a mock criminal trial for the case of a stolen car. Each student played a role: prosecutor, public defender, defendant, car owner, police officer, or expert witness. I was the judge and occasional guide, interrupting to explain a particular court rule or procedure. When the attorneys were finished presenting their case, everyone became a juror, and they tried to decide whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty.
Though we ended with a hung jury unable to agree on a decision, it was the perfect example of how complex real-life court cases are. The students were excited to do mock court day and get the feel for being in court, whether as an expert witness, attorney, or member of the jury. It was awesome to be able to connect our studies of government even more concretely to what we might one day experience.
—Adrianna, American Government teacher