Grades K-6: Juries
Choosing an Impartial Jury
In this lesson students gain some understanding of the challenges faced in selecting a fair and impartial jury.
Reread Goldilocks to become familiar with the details of the story or read the ABA's Goldilocks mock trial before stepping into the classroom.
Begin by saying, "In the United States, anyone who is accused of a crime has the right to a trial by an impartial jury. A jury decides if the accused is guilty or not guilty. Ideally all members of a jury come to the trial without any bias about the accused. They can listen to all the evidence during the trial and decide on the basis of what they hear. They can be fair.
"Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Pretend that Goldilocks is on trial for breaking and entering the Bears' house and that several creatures have been summoned for jury duty. Our task is to choose jurors who are most likely to be fair and impartial."
For older students: Distribute copies of the list of potential jurors. Working in small groups students should decide who they would choose to serve on the jury. In debriefing, probe for why they chose these and not the others.
For younger students: Write the names of each juror, in turn, on the board and read the sentence that describes them. Ask: "Do you think ________ would make a good juror. Could he/she be fair and impartial? Why or why not?"
If time is limited, choose a sample that includes more obvious and less obvious selections and rejections.