For Schools

High School Students: Due Process
Teaching about Due Process of the Law

"Due process" may be unfamiliar to students unless they've been studying law already. Here are some ways to effectively present this very important idea to secondary students. This strategy has been prepared by a lawyer with many years' experience teaching law to kids: Richard L. Roe, Professor of Law and Clinic Director at the Street Law Clinic of Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.

Teachers could use this lesson over several class periods. Lawyers coming into the classroom on Law Day might want to adapt it to focus on the general principle of due process, and use just some of the specific examples given in questions 4-10. Cites have been provided to help presenters (or students) who want to do additional research.

The teacher or presenter can use the following scenario and questions with the full class, or break the class into small groups which could report back to the whole class.

Additional activities could include role playing certain situations. See also the talking points on judicial independence. Independent courts make due process protections meaningful.

Opening Scenario

The Due Process Clause in the United States Constitution reads: "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." What does "due process of law" mean? What rights does it provide to people, and what obligations does it require from government? The following scenario [ Bill's Bad Day] sets out a number of matters that have to do with the due process of law. You might want to photocopy it and hand it out to students to begin the lesson.


>>Teaching about Due Process
>>Handout: Bill's Bad Day (Scenario)
>>Questions
>>Due Process Graph


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