Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies


AUTHOR:  Melanie McCool; Cushing High School, Cushing, OK


OVERVIEW: This lesson will allow students to experience brainstorming
and open-ended questioning strategies and research to develop a
better understanding of the justice system.

PURPOSE: To provide an opportunity for students to discuss both
strengths and weaknesses of the court system in providing equal
justice for all and to identify factors that cause these weaknesses
and recommend solutions.

OBJECTIVES: As a result of this activity:
  1. The student will investigate the criminal justice system.
  2. The student will analyze the 7 Articles to the Constitution.
  3. The student will develop problem-solving and critical-thinking

  1. Attitudinal Survey.
  2. Picture of the Supreme Court Building emphasizing motto "EQUAL
  3. Picture of symbol of justice (blindfolded woman holding balance
  4. United States Constitution
  5. State Constitution
  6. Guest speakers (attorney, judge)
  7. Library

  1. Students take attitudinal survey.
  2. Brainstorm "Equal Justice for All" motto on Supreme Court
     Building.  Students write their opinions of what the motto means.
     a. Show picture of symbol of justice.
     b. Ask: What is the meaning of the symbol?
     c. Why is the woman blindfolded?
     d. What does the scale stand for?
  3. Constitution Search: Point out "establish justice" as purpose
     outlined in Preamble.  Have students search the Constitution to
     find ways this purpose is carried out.  (Use only the 7 Articles
     to the Constitution.)
  4. Guest: Invite a local trial court judge to discuss the
     organization of the court system.
  5. Guest: Invite an attorney to visit.  Raise questions about
     appeal, time involved in judication, and fairness of the

  1. Students complete attitudinal survey and discuss.
  2. After the visit from a local trial court judge have students
construct a diagram of the applicable federal and state courts for
their jurisdiction.  Debrief: Does the flow chart indicate an
effort to provide "equal justice?"  Ask for suggestions to improve
the system.
  3. Encourage all students to share the results of this activity
with their parents/guardians.
  4. Use this activity to introduce the first unit or lesson.


Instructions: For each of the following statements, put a check in
the column which corresponds most closely with your opinion.
                                             SA  A  U  D  SD 
1. In a court of law, the defendant is
   always treated justly.
2. Trial by jury should be abolished.
3. A person is always considered
   innocent until proven guilty.
4. The more money you have, the more
   likely you are to be proven innocent.
5. Everyone should be required to serve
   on a jury at least once in his life.
6. Courts are too lenient with criminals.
7. People who have low IQ's should not be
   allowed to serve on juries
8. In the United States, every defendant
   who requests a jury trial is actually
   tried by his peers.
9. All judges should be elected by the
   people they serve.
10.People who do not agree with the outcome
   of their trial should only be allowed
   to appeal their case one time.
11.The news media should be allowed to cover
   all trials without restriction because
   the Constitution guarantees the right of
   freedom of the press.
12.Courts usually see that justice is served.
13.People charged with serious crimes should
   not be allowed out on bail.
14.Most trials should take place with-out a
   judge since his role is only to umpire the
15.The judicial system in the United States is
   probably the best system which has ever been

SA=Strongly Agree  /  A=Agree  /  U=Undecided
/  D=Disagree  /  SD=Strongly Disagree


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