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Educating About the Judiciary

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Our Courts

Learning About Our Courts


mt2013aThese FREE lesson plans give you the basics of the U.S. court system: What’s the difference between federal and state courts? Civil cases and criminal cases? What is meant by “jurisdiction”?

From the Courtroom to Classroom: Learning About Law (PowerPoint-driven lesson on the basics of our legal system)

Paper Bar Exam 

The Two Systems of Criminal Courts (federal and state courts and the components of a Supreme Court decision)

Courts & the Constitution

Courts and the Constitution

These FREE lesson plans address critical constitutional questions: What role do the courts play in interpreting the Constitution? How have the courts interpreted the Bill of Rights?

ussupremecourrtnightAn Independent Judiciary

Voters and Judges (when judges make controversial decisions)

An Independent Judiciary (Article III and judicial review)

Corruption and Judicial Independence (judicial elections) In English and Spanish.

FDR Tries to “Pack” the Supreme Court (court reform)

Free Expression and Religion

The Free Exercise of Religion in America (interpreting the First Amendment)

John Peter Zenger and the Freedom of the Press (freedom of speech and prior restraints)

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier: A Moot Court Activity (PowerPoint-driven lesson on freedom of expression in schools)

Lesson Plan for Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (for use with the moot court above)

Due Process

Detaining U.S. Citizens as Enemy Combatants (rights of citizens in the war on terror)

Juvenile Justice: What Should We Do With Children Who Break the Law? (juvenile courts and due process)

Equal Protection Under the Law

Arizona v. United States (police and immigration)

Affirmative Action in American Colleges After Fisher v. Texas (interpreting the 14th Amendment)

The Brown Decision: What Does It Mean Today? (Brown v. Board of Education — for use with Courts in the Classroom animated activities)

Courts in Action

Courts in Action

These FREE lesson plans address historical examples of courts at work: What are the foundations of a fair trial? How does a trial work? What happens when a trial court decision is appealed?
 

Famous Trials

Charles Lindburgh

In one of the most highly publicized crimes of the 20th century, Charles Lindbergh sits in the witness stand at the trial of his infant son's kidnappers and murderers in 1935. (Library of Congress)

Saved From the Gallows — The Trial of Leopold and Loeb (death penalty)

Sacco and Vanzetti (right to a fair trial)

The Scopes Trial (evolution on trial)

Free Press vs. Fair Trial: The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Case (right to an impartial jury)

"We Came to Free the Slaves": John Brown on Trial (witnesses, cross-examination, and sentencing)


Famous Appeals

California v. Greenwood: A Moot Court Activity (an appeal to the Supreme Court on the Fourth Amendment)

Mendez v. Westminster (school segregation)

Military Tribunals (rights to appeal in cases involving the U.S. military)

More Monkey Trials: The Evolution Debate Goes Back to Court (appeals of Scopes and other trial cases)

Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Monopoly (federal antitrust enforcement)

Programs

Programs

c2cmclain1Appellate Court Experience
An enriching program that provides students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the judicial system by visiting the California State Court of Appeal.  

Courtroom to Classroom 
An exciting program that brings judge and attorney teams to middle and high school classrooms where they facilitate interactive lessons and moot court activities.

Judges, Courts, and the Law
A multimedia program of the Judicial Council of California and CRF that provides web resources, lessons, and Flash-animated activities for students.  

Law-Related Career Center
A place to explore careers in the legal field. This site provides information about various careers, educational requirements, and levels of compensation.

Mock Trial Competition
A hands-on learning experience that engages students from 36 California counties! Mock Trial helps students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system; develop analytical abilities and communication skills; and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society.

Publications & Other Resources

Publications

bria31_1_coverBill of Rights in Action
Free online lessons from CRF’s quarterly curricular newsletter. The archive goes back almost 20 years with lessons on U.S. and world history, legal issues, and current issues. It includes many of the lessons linked above and hundreds of others.

Constitution & Bill of Rights
PowerPoint presentations with interactive strategies.

  • An Introduction: The development of the Constitution and Bill of Rights with a popular activity, “A Visitor From Outer Space.”

  • Equal Protection: The key concepts of the 14th Amendment along with a moot-court activity on Gratz v. Bollinger, a Supreme Court case on affirmative action.

  • Free Expression: An overview of the First Amendment concepts concluding with a moot-court activity on Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, a Supreme Court case on censorship of school newspapers.

  • Due Process, Volume 1: An introduction to due process concluding a moot-court activity on California v. Greenwood, a Supreme Court case on search and seizure.

  • Due Process, Volume 2: A further introduction to due process concluding with a moot-court activity on Chicago v. Morales, a Supreme Court case involving a gang ordinance. 

Criminal Justice in America
The most interactive and complete text and curriculum available on the entire criminal justice system, including the courts.

Landmarks: Supreme Court Cases
A text and curriculum on historic decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court from Marbury v. Madison to Bush v. Gore.

Mock Trial Case Packets  
An archive of fully developed, interesting cases.

Sha-Law-Law: Justice, the Courts, and You (DVD).
This video and lessons and designed to give students a basic introduction to the way in whic society handles conflicts through the use of the justice system (Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile).

The Development of Law Series.
Texts and curriculum on the history of law from ancient times to the present.

Of Codes & Crowns: From the Ancient World to the Renaissance 

Of Democrats & Dictators: From Elizabethan England to the Modern Age


Other Resources

Civics Renewal Network
A consortium of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations committed to strengthening civic life in the U.S. by increasing the quality of civics education in our nation's schools and by improving accessibility to high-quality, no-cost learning materials.

Federal Judiciary Educational Resources
Classroom discussions; landmark case summaries; law-related holidays and commemorations; and educational outreach provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on behalf of the Federal Judiciary.

Judicial Branch of California: California on My Honor
Lesson plans, primary sources, videos, games and other resources divided by grade level and provided by the Judicial Branch of California.

Street Law, Inc.
A nonprofit organization that creates classroom and community programs that teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide. Constitutional Rights Foundation has been proud to partner with Street Law, Inc., on many projects, including Deliberating in a Democracy and Educating About Intellectual Property.