Given how important courts are in our society, it is vital that everyone has equal access to them. This dialogue should help you lead a discussion about why access to justice is a key component of our constitutional democracy, yet not always easy to achieve or define.
This is structured discussion that helps students understand the guaranteed right to counsel by telling the story of Clarence Gideon.
In this lesson, students will learn about the events that led to the case In re Gault, and will recognize this case’s importance to juvenile rights and juvenile court proceedings. Students will list those parts of the case that they believe were carried out fairly, and those that they believe were unfair to Gault. Students’ concerns about the case are compared to the actual reasons given by the Supreme Court. The lesson leads naturally into a discussion of due process.
In this lesson, students will look at the various dimensions of right to counsel. They will study how the meaning of this right has evolved over time with reference to specific landmark United States Supreme Court cases. Students will develop lists of reasons why such a right is important to the functioning of the adversary process. The lesson ends with an examination of the role of the criminal attorney.
These activities provide excerpts from the Constitution and quotes from influential figures in history which help to define the concept of justice. By discussing these ideas, students will develop an understanding of justice, and articulate how the Constitution aims to promote justice.