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HSC Lesson Plans

The American Judicature Society is committed to helping educate the public about the workings of the judicial branch of government. The High School Curriculum on the Judiciary is a four-lesson unit prepared for high-school seniors. Below are lesson plans and videos to use in your classroom.  Feedback is always welcome along with suggested revisions to the plans.

Jury System lesson plan helps students understand the role of juries in our judicial system and how juries came to be used to ensure justice and protect individual rights. 

Judicial Independence lesson plan helps students understand the concept of “judicial independence,” why it is important for our courts, and how it can be threatened. The four-part lesson is flexible and adaptable. With minor adjustments, each day’s material may be taught as a stand-alone lesson or in combination with another day’s material. The lesson includes additional online resources for teachers, lecture notes, discussion questions, and suggested activities and assignments with accompanying handouts and overheads. AJS welcomes your feedback and has included both an Instructor Evaluation and a Student Evaluation to be completed and returned to AJS staff for future program enhancements.

Supreme Court lesson plan allows the students to research and play roles as U. S. Supreme Court justices, their clerks, and opposing attorneys. The six-day lesson includes detailed teacher notes and day planner. Student information includes facts in a hypothetical case about a high-school's drug-testing policy, rubrics for the students' roles, and helpful handouts, including a graphic organizer to help the student "lawyers" plot their key arguments. After each side of the case is argued, the student Supreme Court "justices" render a decision. The majority and dissenting opinions of the Supreme Court in the real case are compared and contrasted with the students' decision.

As part of this lesson, a video shows three aspects of the Supreme Court process. Total run time is 10 minutes, 20 seconds.

1. Introduction to the Justices.
2. Part of the oral arguments.
3. Justices in conference.

Court Procedure lesson plan is a simulation game about a murder. The lesson requires students to play the roles of witnesses, prosecuting and defense attorneys, detectives, CSI team members, jurors, a court clerk, a journalist, a photographer, and other justice-system actors. This is a 12-day lesson, and includes detailed rubrics for the different roles, scripts for the witnesses, and instructions for creating evidence. Teachers will find detailed guidance, including a crime-scene layout diagram, websites for fingerprint and DNA evidence, grade sheets and other supporting documents. The lesson concludes with a trial (with students role playing the judge, jurors, prosecuting and defense attorneys, and witnesses).

This lesson also comes with a supplemental Court Procedure video lesson which shows three aspects of the court procedure. Total run time is 9 minutes 25 seconds.
1. Defense Opening Statement.
2. Two witnesses for the prosecution (one witnesses is the school secretary).
3. Judge's instruction to the jury and the verdict.

Crime Scene and Witnesses Interview

This video shows a crime scene and an interview with a witness. A high school counselor was used as the witness. Total run time is 3 minutes, 32 seconds.