Monday, May 16, 2011

Junior Exams -- Review

Complete 5 of the following questions in your notes for tomorrow. Write in complete sentences and number each problem. Remember -- pick ones that you need to work on, and do NOT choose ones we did in class today. Have these on your desk at the start of tomorrow's class period.
  1. What is the Lemon Test? What case was it involved in? What are the steps?
  2. Which amendment applies federal laws to the states?
  3. Name the main clauses of the First Amendment (6 total).
  4. Which founders were in favor of the Bill of Rights? Which were against it? What were their reasons?
  5. Define judicial review. Then, describe how the process is uesd. Include the branch of government.
  6. What is the purpose of the 10th Amendment?
  7. Compare and contrast the purposes of the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses. Give an example application for each.
  8. What is the difference between a "strict constructionist" and a "precedent" philosophy?
  9. Describe the purpose of each of the first 3 articles of the Constitution.
  10. What is the difference between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution? Which succeeded? Which failed? Why?
  11. What was the Dred Scott case about? What Acts/Compromises were involved? What was the court's decision? What precedent was set?
  12. What is common law? Natural law?
  13. Many states are passing laws related to marriage, defining it in a certain way. What amendments must these states consider? Explain.
  14. Does the government have the constitutional right to limit the rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees?
  15. What rights does habeas corpus provide to detainees? What part of the Constitution contains habeas corpus?

Friday, May 13, 2011

War on Terror: Legal Questions

Complete the following questions on loose leaf paper using the reading distributed in class today.
  1. Record the title of your article.
  2. Write a 1 paragraph summary of the article's main topic.
  3. Which amendments are discussed in the article? Why does the author bring these up?
  4. What is the author's argument? Why is he making this argument?
  5. Do you agree with the argument? Explain.
As promised, review questions are included below, in the post from last Friday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guantanamo Bay: A Legislative Hearing

A Legislative Hearing is a time when senators will meet to listen to representatives from different groups speak on a particular topic.

We will simulate a legislative hearing on the Guantanamo Bay issue.

Guiding Question: Should the United States government fund the closure of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center?

Each of you will play the part of a senator OR of a representative from a specific interest group. We will use this format to examine the legal issues at stake related to Guantanamo Bay. Each of you will work individually to complete your portion of the assignment.
  • Senators: Khaylian and Delissa
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies: Vanecia
  • Heritage Foundation: Shaquara
  • Human Rights Watch: Shang
  • American Civil Liberties Union: Rukiat
  • Coalition for Terror-Free Communities: Maya
Each student will complete research using a worksheet and be prepared to present that research to the class tomorrow.

Use the websites listed on your worksheets to complete your research. However, be aware that some of the links on the pages are a little outdated. If a link does not work, search the website for the information you need. Use search terms ("Guantanamo Bay", "torture", etc.) to find answers for your question.

The worksheet is due at the start of tomorrow's class. It is worth a total of 35 points -- 5 points per question.

Senators -- your worksheet only has 6 questions on it. You will also need to draft a list of questions to ask the representatives from the different groups.

Tomorrow, we will hold our hearing. The procedure for the hearing is below:
  1. The chairperson will call the hearing to order. She will then state the purpose of the hearing.
  2. Each senator will make a brief opening statment expressing her expectations for the proceedings.
  3. Each representative will have an opportunity to make an opening statement. After each representative speaks, the senators will have the chance to question her/him.
  4. Opening statements should take 1-2 minutes. Questions and responses should take 5-6 minutes.
  5. Finally, the senators will discuss their decision.
Each student will receive a 20 point presentation grade based on a rubric which will be shown in class tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review Questions

  1. What is the Lemon Test? What case was it involved in? What are the steps?
  2. Which amendment applies federal laws to the states?
  3. Name the main clauses of the First Amendment (6 total).
  4. Which founders were in favor of the Bill of Rights? Which were against it? What were their reasons?
  5. Define judicial review. Then, describe how the process is uesd. Include the branch of government.
  6. What is the purpose of the 10th Amendment?
  7. Compare and contrast the purposes of the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses. Give an example application for each.
  8. What is the difference between a "strict constructionist" and a "precedent" philosophy?
  9. Describe the purpose of each of the first 3 articles of the Constitution.
  10. What is the difference between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution? Which succeeded? Which failed? Why?
  11. What was the Dred Scott case about? What Acts/Compromises were involved? What was the court's decision? What precedent was set?
  12. What is common law? Natural law?
  13. Many states are passing laws related to marriage, defining it in a certain way. What amendments must these states consider? Explain.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Amendment Research Paper Introduction

The First Amendment is, arguably, the most important one. In order to learn more about the amendment's real life application, you will conduct research with the ultimate goal of writing a research paper.

General topic questions:

Is TOPIC X protected by the 1st Amendment (constitutional)?


Is TOPIC X outlawed by the 1st Amendment (unconstitutional)?

First, choose one of the following First Amendment freedoms to focus on:
  • Petition
  • Religion
  • Assembly
  • Speech
  • Press
Once you've chosen your freedom, choose one of the following areas of study:
  • Controversial public advertising
  • Prayer at school sports events
  • Distribution of material within school
  • Religious meeting within school
  • Moment of silence at school
  • Censorship in a specific situation (ex: book banning, school newspaper censorship, etc.)
  • Dress code
  • Speech rules
  • Internet speech
  • Plagiarism
  • Protests at school
  • Other related topic
You could also choose a topic related to one of the First Amendment freedoms based on a current event. An  example might be the decision of a Florida pastor to burn a copy of the Qur'an.

Once you've chosen your focus and area of study, you will follow the steps below:
  1. Create a guiding research question (Ex.: Do radio personalities have the right to broadcast offensive material?)
  2. Use that research question to find Supreme Court cases related to your topic (using approved sources)
  3. Write a case brief following instructions given in class of one court case
  4. Find other court cases related to your topic (these could be state or local cases -- not every case has to have reached the Supreme Court)
  5. Find other informed sources related to your research question. For our purposes, these sources will typically be web sources.
  1. The paper should be 3-5 pages in length.
  2. The paper should be written in the third person.
  3. This research paper is an argumentative paper. Your first paragraph should clearly describe the topic and focus of your research by providing background information and context. Your thesis statement should come at the end of the first paragraph. Note: the reader should not have to guess what you will argue in your paper after reading the introduction.
  4. Even though you are making an argument on your topic, you must remain objective. You must show each side (or more) of the topic throughout the paper. You will ultimately reach your conclusion, but make sure to consistently present each side of the issue.
  5. Close your essay with a separate, final evaluation in which you relate your opinion concerning the application of the law. You are trying to show whether or not the First Amendment is still applicable 200 years after it was written. To what extent should there be enforcement of its use by the press, courts or citizens?
  6. You must include at least two court cases, at least one of which must be a Supreme Court case. Each case much relate to your research question in some way.
  7. You must have at least two additional sources related to the research question.
  8. All information must be cited properly -- including direct quotes and paraphrased information (refer to the Purdue Owl website to assist you in citing sources).
  9. You must include a title page separate from your paper. This does not count toward your page limit.
  10. You must include an annotated bibliography including your minimum four sources. This does not count toward your page limit.
  11. Your paper must be organized. Your introduction and conclusion will take at least one paragraph each.
  12. Use 12 point font, Times New Roman or Arial, standard margins, and include page numbers.
Today: identify your freedom and topic. Use the research sites provided in the next post to begin forming your research question. Friday, your research question, your primary Supreme Court case, and a brief summary explaining the case's relevance to your topic are due on your desk at the start of Friday's class. 15 points.

Schedule (we will visit the computer lab on additional days to conduct research)
Wednesday, 4/6/11: Computer lab visit to choose freedom, topic, frame research question, begin research.
Friday, 4/8/11: Research question and primary Supreme Court case due at beginning of class.
Mondy, 4/11/11: Lab visit during class to conduct research/work on bibliography.
Wednesday, 4/13/11: Lab visit during class to conduct research/work on bibliography.
Thursday, 4/14/11: Annotated bibliography due (30 point project page, based on rubric)
Tuesday, 4/19/11: Case Brief due (15 point project grade, based on rubric)
Tuesday, 5/3/11: Rough Draft Due (35 point homework grade, based on rubric divided in half)
Friday, 5/6/11: Final Paper Due (70 point project grade, based on rubric)

Potential Sources

Here are some potential sources to use in your paper (hint -- use the search functions on each site):

You may be able to find additional sources, but everything that is not on this list must be approved by me. Unapproved sources will not count on your annotated bibliography.

Writing the Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography lists the sources that you plan to use in a research paper.  List these using proper MLA format (as if you were typing a Works Cited).  After each citation, you include a brief description of the source.  The purpose is to cite the relevancy of each source.  The annotation should summarize important information in the source, perhaps the central theme of the source, evaluate the authority of the author, compare and contrast this source with another source, and/or remark on how you plan to use this source in your paper.  While the length of the annotation can vary with each assignment, the annotations for this assignment should be a paragraph (5 sentences).  The first three sentences should summarize the information in the source, and the last two sentences should state your interpretation and how you plan to use the source. Remember -- you will need at least 4 total sources for this paper.

Example: (Notice: do not indent the first line of the entry. Indent all others. Single space each entry. Blue text represents your summary of the source. Red text represents your evaluation of the source.)

Greenhouse, Linda. “THE SUPREME COURT: Animal Sacrifice; Court, Citing Religious Freedom, Voids a
        Ban on Animal Sacrifices.” New York Times. 12 June 1993. Web. 5 November 2009. This article by  
        Greenhouse overviews the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah case. It takes out some of the more   
        technical information included in the actual court case and replaces it with more summaries about the 
        opinions of individuals involved in the case. The article also includes a brief history of the religion of 
        Santeria, the religion of the church in question. Since it includes quotes from people involved in this case 
        other than those of statements from the actual court document, this article is very important 
        to use. These quotes add a little more depth to both sides of the argument and also to the final ruling.

Briefing a Case

One of the requirements of your project is a case brief. This is something that every lawyer and law student must be able to do. A brief is an outline of a case’s specifics that presents the most important information.  To brief a case, you need to consider and answer the following questions:

  1. Case: what is the name of the case? Where can the full case record be found? In what year was the case decided?
  2. Facts: provide a summary of the incident that brought the case before the court.  Include a description of the crime and the circumstances causing the earlier court’s decision to be appealed.  **Describe what previous courts ruled on the case (if possible) and explain the ruling(s).
  3. Issue: What are the central legal issues the court must decide to arrive at a decision?
  4. Holding: What did the court decide? What is the outcome?
  5. Reasoning: Why does the court decide the way it does? What is its logic and analysis of the facts?

You also need to read and provide a summary of the majority and dissenting opinions (judges explain
the ruling and why they agree or disagree with it) under the “reasoning” section.

Questions to ask when reading a case:  (taken from
Note: You do not need to answer these questions in the order written to complete the assignment. They must all be items you consider during when reading the case.

  1. What facts and circumstances brought these parties to court? 
  2. Are there buzzwords in the facts that suggest an issue? 
  3. Is the court deciding a question of fact - i.e. the parties are in dispute over what happened - or is it a question of law - i.e. the court is unsure which rule to apply to these facts? 
  4. What are the non-issues? 
  5. What are the elements that prove the rule? 
  6. What are the exceptions to the rule? 
  7. From what authority does it come? Common law, statute, new rule? 
  8. What's the underlying public policy behind the rule? 
  9. Are there social considerations? 
  10. Which facts help prove which elements of the rule? 
  11. Why are certain facts relevant? 
  12. How do these facts satisfy this rule?
  13. What types of facts are applied to the rule? 
  14. How do these facts further the public policy underlying this rule? 
  15. What's the counter-argument for another solution? 
  16. What's the holding of the case? 
  17. Has the holding modified the existing rule of law? 
  18. What is the procedural effect of the holding? Is the case overturned, upheld or remanded for retrial? 
  19. Does the holding further the underlying policy of the rule? 
  20. Do you agree with the outcome of the case?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quarter 4, Test 1 Topics

You will have a test on Friday (April 1) over everything we’ve covered so far. This test will include:
The Articles of Confederation
Arguments for and against the Articles
The Constitution
Articles I-III of the Constitution
The Bill of Rights
Arguments for and against the Bill of Rights
The 1st Amendment
The 14th Amendment
Applying each amendment to legal situations (like in the arrival!).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cheaters? The Project.

The scenario: You, or your classmate, have been accused of cheating on the Law & Government exam. You play the role of the accused cheater OR a witness. We will use this situation to model the trial preparation process and to prepare for your exam. 

Read all of the information below and use it to complete the assignment given. All assignments are due Monday in an e-mail to me.

If you have questions, e-mail me or see me Monday.

Follow the instructions carefully.

The Case
Providence St. Mel v. Vanecia/Jazmin

Type of Case

Burden of Proof
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant is guilty based on the preponderance of the evidence.

Statement of the Case
On March 10, 2011, PSM's Law & Government class took its final exam. The class was exhausted from weeks of preparing for the mock trial, and although the students were hoping to earn an "A" on the exam, many were just plain ready for a break.

During the exam, the Defendant (Vanecia or Jazmin) was caught with a paper underneath her desk. The paper was full of writing. The handwriting, although identifiable as belonging to the Defendant, was illegible. In addition, the Defendant, who had her sleeves rolled up to her elbows during the exam, clearly had writing on her left/right arm. The writing was smudged, as though the Defendant had hurriedly attempted to wipe it away.

Both the writing on her arm and the rolled up sleeves are punishable by a uniform violation. The uniform violation is not part of this case.

Mr. Ramin, the Law & Government teacher, quickly accused the Defendant of cheating. He issued her a referral and sent her to the dean's office. If she is convicted of the crime, the defendant will receive a zero on her exam and three work detentions.

During the exam, the classroom held Mr. Ramin, the Defendant, and 17 other students. Two or three of the students are called as witnesses in the case.

The Defendant has a history of cheating -- she was caught red-handed ONCE during her Sophomore/Junior year. She admitted the crime, and was sentenced to a zero on the test and three work detentions.

Notes: The above details are set in stone. You have creative control over the rest of the case. The layout of the room as described should be approximately that of Room 309 in real life. All evidence rules I discussed with you in class yesterday still apply (i.e., the writing can be on right or left arm). Don't forget to bring up ANY and ALL evidence that you think will help prove your side's version of the case.

Definition of Cheating
A person commits the offense of cheating when she knowingly uses an unapproved aid to complete a test or assignment. The "cheater" does not have to have been successful in scoring highly to be convicted of cheating.

Yesterday in class, you had the opportunity to create an affidavit for your character -- witness or defendant. Today, type that affidavit into an MS Word document. Save the document to your H: drive, then e-mail it to me. Make sure that your affidavit conforms to the "facts" as written above. Your affidavit will be graded based on the following criteria:
  • Completeness: 5 points
  • Model (follows style of People v. Grey affidavits): 5 points
  • Language Mechanics: 5 points
  • Cohesiveness (your affidavit fits in with the information given by your teammates): 5 points
  • Total: 20 point project, individual grade
Direct/Cross Questions
Now you will act as LAWYERS. Trade your affidavits. Everyone should have an affidavit different from the one he/she wrote. Use your affidavit to complete the following:
  1. Identify the areas of the witness' testimony that support your position in the case. You will most likely play the DEFENSE role here. Create a minimum of 15 direct examination questions AND answers for your witnesses. Model your questions on the ones we created (posted on the wiki). You really SHOULD be able to create more than 15 directs. Remember -- you can start with something as simple as the Defendant's name.
  2. Identify at least 2 weaknesses in the witness' testimony. You will most likely play the PLAINTIFF role here. Create a minimum of 10 cross examination questions for your witnesses. Answers are not necessary for cross questions.
It will most likely be best to divide the roles so that you can complete them in the time provided.

Save your questions to your H: drive, then e-mail them to me. Your direct + cross questions will be graded based on the following criteria:
  • Quality/Completeness of 15 directs: 5 points
  • Directs support witness' position: 5 points
  • Quality/Completeness of 10 crosses: 5 points
  • Crosses support attorney's position: 5 points
  • Language Mechanics: 5 points
  • Total: 25 point project
You will receive 2 project grades from this activity: 1 for your affidavit, 1 for your directs/crosses.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Homework: Friday, 2/25/11

Below are the questions from your in-class mock trial practice test from Wednesday. You will see these questions again next week in a quiz, and those of you participating in the Mock Trial will similar questions in Springfield.

Use the questions to complete the following assignment on loose leaf paper.

Identify the five questions with which you felt least comfortable on Tuesday. Write the questions down, numbering each as it is numbered here. Under each question, attempt to answer it using your mock trial materials and/or the search function at Note -- you will need to use a specific search term (i.e., "cross examination). We will talk about the questions on Monday.

If you have more than 5 questions you didn't get, make sure you make a note of their numbers.

Each question and response is worth 2 points. The assignment is worth 10 points total. I will not have copies for you to use on Monday, so make sure you complete this over the weekend.

1. The scope of re-cross is (choose the best response)
a. limited by the scope of questions asked on the initial cross examination
b. limited by the scope of questions asked on the redirect examination
c. limited by the stipulations
d. unlimited
e. there is no recross allowed at mock trials

2. Sequestering a jury means:
a. asking the jury questions
b. selecting the jury
c. polling the jury to see if a verdict is unanimous
d. keeping members of the jury away from the general public, as well as the media
e. providing meals for the jury

3. If a cross-examining lawyer asks a question and the witness gives an answer that doesn’t
answer the question, what is the proper objection?
a. narrative
b. no foundation
c. non-responsive
d. asked and answered
e. badgering

4. What is it called when a witness lies while under oath?
a. perjury
b. impeachment
c. embezzlement
d. hearsay
e. reaching

5. During trial, which of the following is not true?
a. you should rise when addressing the judge
b. you should badger the witnesses until you get the answers you want
c. you should direct all remarks to the judge or witnesses, not to opposing counsel
d. don't make objections unless you have a basis
e. don’t ask witnesses about what they think might have happened

6. Which of the following is something that attorneys do not do during trial?
a. opening statements
b. direct examinations of witnesses
c. cross examinations of witnesses
d. closing arguments
e. responding to questions from the jurors

7. Testimony by an expert witness:
a. cannot be considered by the jury
b. should be given special consideration by the jury
c. should be considered on the same basis as any other witness testimony
d. should only be considered by the judge
e. none of the above

8. Mock trial witnesses
a. are bound by the facts in their affidavits
b. may be examined by the judge and members of the jury if deemed appropriate
c. may be impeached based on materials not found in the mock trial materials
d. may play the role of two witnesses during any one trial
e. may use costumes and dialect to express themselves.

9. If a witness offers an out-of-court statement made by another person to prove a matter asserted in the witness's own testimony, that statement is called:
a. Argumentative
b. Hearsay
c. Asked and answered
d. Leading
e. Improper character testimony

10. Circumstantial evidence may be relied upon
a. in criminal cases only
b. only when it relates to character
c. if it leads to a reasonable inference based on other facts
d. can be used only in appellate cases
e. in civil cases only

11. A change of venue is
a. a change in judges
b. a change in the location of the trial
c. a change in jury instructions
d. a change of lawyers
e. a change in the formal charges against the defendant

12. Jury instructions tell the jury
a. how they are to behave in court
b. whether the defendant is guilty or innocent
c. where to sit
d. the procedures they must follow when deliberating the case
e. that they can’t go home until they have rendered a verdict

13. The best thing to do if you believe that a witness has made an unfair extrapolation is
a. object to unfair extrapolation
b. file a rules violation at the end of the round
c. ignore the situation
d. attempt to impeach the witness
e. stop the trial and consult with your teacher

14. If a witness is having problems remembering what to say, you may
a. help the witness by refreshing his or her recollection
b. answer the question yourself
c. ask a leading question to stimulate the answer you need
d. talk louder
e. dismiss the witness and call someone else

15. Attorneys may "object" to certain statements made, or questions asked, by opposing counsel. Who makes the final determination regarding these "objections?"
a. the jury
b. opposing counsel
c. the judge
d. the witness
e. the bailiff

16. What do you call a trial without a jury present?
a. Invalid trial procedure
b. Oral argument
c. Bench trial
d. Closed court
e. None of the above

17. A stipulation is an agreement that certain facts pertaining to the case:
a. may never be admitted into evidence
b. may only be referred to by the plaintiff
c. may be admitted into evidence
d. only the judge may see
e. none of the above

18. Pointing out a prior inconsistent statement of a witness during cross-examination is
a. impeachment
b. contradictory evidence
c. hearsay
d. improper recollection
e. none of the above

19. In Illinois, to become a lawyer, you must:
a. Graduate from an American Bar Association accredited law school
b. Pass the Bar Examination
c. Pass the Character and Fitness Review and an ethics examination
d. Take an oath.
e. All of the above.

20. The question "What happened on March 7, 2007?" is asked on direct examination. Which of the following is the best objection?
a) beyond the scope of direct
b) leading
c) the question calls for a narrative response
d) hearsay
e) any of the above

21. To impeach a witness on cross-examination, you may ask questions relating to all but which of the following?
a. prior bad conduct that makes his/her credibility (truth-telling ability) seem doubtful and shows that the witness should not be believed.
b. the accuracy of his/her sensory perceptions, which is the witness' ability
to see, hear or smell.
c. prior statements made by the witness, which contradict his/her testimony at trial and point out the inconsistencies in his/her story.
d. the bias or prejudice of the witness, that is, showing that the witness has reason to favor or disfavor one side of the case.
e. Any of the above may be used to impeach a witness.

22. "Excited Utterance" is an exception to which standard courtroom objection?
a. leading question
b. asked and answered
c. lack of personal knowledge
d. hearsay
e. lack of proper foundation

23. Which of the following would be considered a leading question?
a. State your first and last name...
b. State your address...
c. What is your occupation...
d. You really didn’t see anything, did you...
e. Where were you on the day in question...

24. Which of the following do NOT take place before a trial?
a. pretrial preparation
b. discovery
c. pretrial hearings
d. jury selection
e. rendering a verdict

25. Generally, only relevant evidence may be presented during trial. Relevant evidence is any evidence, which helps to prove or disprove the facts in issue in the case. However, even relevant evidence can be excluded if it is:
a. unfairly prejudicial, potentially confusing to the jury or a waste of time
b. presented by the an unsympathetic witness
c. presented by a defendant’s family member
d. presented by an expert witness
e. common knowledge any person should know

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday, 2/22/11 Homework

Law & Government Homework:
Use the information on pp. 34-35 in your Mock Trial handbook to write objectionable questions for each of the following objections:
1.    Irrelevant evidence
2.    Improper character testimony
3.    Argumentative question
4.    Speculation
5.    Lack of Personal Knowledge
Use Whitney Grey as your witness.
Due on your desk at the start of tomorrow’s class. 10 points.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Upcoming Practice Dates

We will have a voluntary practice at school in Room 309 on Saturday, February 19, 2011 from 9-12. Remember, Ms. Furey and I will be there at 9:00 with doughnuts and juice, so if you committed to practice, make sure you are there on time UNLESS you've already told me you will need to be a little late.

We will have a MANDATORY practice next Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 9-12 in Rm. 309. Attendance will count as a quiz grade. Make the necessary arrangements to be there on time.

We will discuss after school practice times for the upcoming week on Saturday.

Some notes and due dates

Here are the notes and due dates discussed in class today.
  • This Weekend: Study Case Materials and Mock Trial Rules. We’ll take a written test every day next week.
  • Rolling project grades: 20 points for the following, saved to the Y: drive and uploaded to the wiki:
  • Monday: “Finalized” Openings
  • Tuesday: “Finalized” Closings
  • Wednesday: “Finalized” Directs and Crosses
  • These are mostly attorney assignments. All other students will have a project introduced next week.
Openings and Closings:
  • Does it have a hook?
  • Does it follow a theme?
  • Does the theme from the opening carry over to the closing?
  • Does it lay out your side’s case?
  • Is it argumentative? It shouldn’t be!
  • Is it 3 minutes (openings)
  • Is it 4 minutes (closings, 5 minutes prosecution including rebuttal)
  • Is it convincing?
  • Is it REAL?????

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wednesday's Roles

Your role assignments for Wednesday's Mock Trial scrimmage against Glenbrook South are below:

Opening Statement: Delissa
Direct Examination of Eaton Bahr: Delissa
Direct Examination of Lane O'Brien: Pasharea
Cross Examination of Whitney Grey: Rukiat
Cross Examination of Ashton Bellows: Khaylian
Cross Examination of Jensen Decker: Pasharea
Closing Argument: Khaylian

Eaton Bahr: Keianna
Lane O'Brien: Shang/Shaquille

Opening Statement: Shang
Cross Examination of Eaton Bahr: Shang
Cross Examination of Lane O'Brien: Latrice
Cross Examination of Falcon Berk: Maya
Direct Examination of Ashton Bellows: Maya
Direct Examination of Whitney Grey: Rukiat/Shaquara
Closing Argument: Latrice

Whitney Grey: Shaquara/Rukiat
Ashton Bellows: Kilah

Advisers/Rules Experts for the Prosecution:

Advisers/Rules Experts for the Defense:

All of these roles are tentative. You may be reassigned as we go forward. If you are not assigned a role but would like to try something, now is the time to speak up!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Take-Home Quiz

This quiz must be completed on loose leaf paper. It is worth 20 points total, and is due on Monday, Feb. 14. Each question must be answered in a complete sentence. It has two parts, each referring to one specific section of your binder:
  • Mock Trial Rules Handbook
  • Mock Trial Case Materials
Each section of the quiz is clearly labeled. The case materials can also be accessed using the links on the right hand side of the blog.

Section 1: Mock Trial Rules Handbook. 6 questions, 10 points total.
  1. Based on the rules you were given, explain when it is appropriate to give an objection in the case. In your response, include specific information on who can object, when they can do it, and when they cannot (2 points).
  2. How much time is alotted for direct and cross examinations (for both prosecution and defense witnesses) (1 point)?
  3. Summarize the purpose of a closing argument, then give a short example of the type of information which could be included in a closing argument for our case (3 points).
  4. Summarize the steps necessary to introduce an exhibit into evidence (2 points).
  5. What is a redirect? Define the term, then explain its purpose in a trial (1 point).
  6. What is the highest point total a team can achieve in the mock trial competition (1 point)?
Part 2: Mock Trial Case Materials. 4 questions, 10 points total.
  1. If you were a juror, what criteria would help you determine if a witness’s testimony is reliable? Choose one witness from the People v. Grey case and explain how that witness can win over the jury (3 points).
  2. Using the diagram on p. 27 of the case materials, describe the site of the fire's ignition EXACTLY, giving specific evidence as set out by Fire Marshal Bahr (3 points).
  3. How much does Bahr's report state that the building was valued at? How much was it insured for (1 point).
  4. In order to win the case, what must the prosecution PROVE? Specifically show what must be proven, then evaluate whether or not the prosecution can actually prove anything based on the evidence given. Hint: examine the first four pages of the case materials (3 points).
20 points total.

More on Openings and Closings

Here's additional information on writing opening statements, taken directly from the mock trial rules handbook.

1. OPENING STATEMENTS: The objective of the opening statement is to acquaint the
judge and the jury with the case and to outline what you are going to prove through witness
testimony and the admission of evidence. Include a short summary of the facts; mention the
burden of proof (the amount of evidence needed to prove a fact) and who has the burden in
this case; the applicable law; a clear and concise overview of the witnesses and physical
evidence that you will present and how each will contribute to proving your case. Remember,
it is essential that you appear confident in your case. Stand before the jury and use eye
contact. Students may move about to facilitate expression.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hints on Opening Statements and Closing Arguments

Below are some hints on how to write effective openings and closings. They come from one of the attorneys working on our case, Mr. Conway. Mr. Conway is an assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois. That means that he's got plenty of experience delivering both openings and closings. If you follow his advice, you just might win the case for us!

Opening Statements:


·         It’s a statement, not argument (applying fact to law) but you need to get advocacy in
·         Keep simple and tight.  The jury has no idea what the case is about and you know too much.  Don’t load them up with confusing facts right out of the gate.  You could lose their attention for the rest of the trial.


·         Explain who you are (including co-counsel) and who you represent.

·         Briefly explain why you are here i.e. “we are here today to resolve a charge of Arson brought against the Defendant.”

·         Give a snapshot overview of the story.

Prosecution example:  “On July 4, ______ a fire completely destroyed the Bellows and O’Brian Pub and after a thorough investigation law enforcement determined that it was not an accident and that the Defendant was responsible.”

Defense example:  “On July 4, ______ a fire destroyed the Bellows and O’Brian Pub and in a desperate effort to assign blame for the fire, Ashton was charged with a crime he didn’t commit and based on nothing more than a hunch.”

·         Explain the major bits of evidence that will be presented to the jury (or not presented in the case of the Defense).

Prosecution example:  You will hear testimony that this fire was no accident.

Defense example:  You will hear no eye-witness testimony that Whitney set fire to the pub.

Note:  Do not overpromise

·         End with a punch

Prosecution example:  After considering all the evidence you will have the privileged opportunity to see that justice prevails.   Thank you for your service. 

Defense example:  The only justice needed today is for you to send a strong message to the State that evidence is actually required to convict someone of a crime and to see to it that an innocent young man/woman does not have his/her life destroyed on a hunch. 

Closing Arguments


·         Appling fact to law (this is the Argument)

·         Prosecution:  Detailing the evidence that was admitted proving each element of Arson.  Go through the elements one by one.  If defense presented rebuttal evidence, argue that it was not credible and should not be considered.  Explain that circumstantial evidence can be used to prove the charge. 

·         Defense:  Explain that it is the Prosecution’s job to prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt and if they cannot, the jury cannot convict.  Point out how the prosecution utterly failed at proving any element of Arson beyond a reasonable doubt.  Attack each element by raising doubts to as many as possible.  Mention where Prosecution presented no evidence and where they did, how it is not credible and/or point out rebuttal evidence.

·         Include a creative punch at the end.

·         Thank the jury for its service. 

Brownie Points:  Particularly for defense, to seize on a prosecution statement in and opening or closing and pounce on it in defense opening or closing.  You can’t put that in a script.  That is on the fly.