Law and society: Activity 1

Trial by jury

For a class of 20, we will need:

Here's what happened:

It was a hot and humid day in Florida, the kind of weather that puts people on edge. The defendant and victim were both in sour moods when they bumped into each other on the street. One thing led to another, and the defendant drew his weapon and shot. BLAM!! BLAM!! BLAM!!

The victim fell to the sidewalk in a pool of blood. Fortunately (s)he survived, but (s)he was seriously wounded.

Just as fortunately, there were three witnessess. They were all present when the event happened, but, due to a bad headcold, one of the witnesses could not hear what was said. Also, another one of the witnesses, who has very bad eyesight, was not wearing his/her glasses, so could not clearly see what happened. The third witness, having use of all his/her senses, saw and heard everything; additionally, it should be noted that this witness is a gun owner and member of the NRA (National Rifle Association.)

The state decides to try the defendant, claiming (s)he fired unnecessarily because (s)he wasn't in fact in real danger. The defendant, naturally, claims (s)he felt threatened and, under the new 'stand your ground' law, had the right to shoot.

Now, the trial date has arrived. The prosecution and defense must present their cases, and the jury must decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.


  1. Choose roles
  2. The defendant, victim, and two witnesses leave the classroom. Outside the classroom, the shooting takes place. One of the witnesses must cover his/her ears so as not to hear what is said.
  3. Of course, there is some interaction between the victim and defendant before the shooting, but it is up to them to decide how the events unfold, i.e., what really happens.
  4. After the shooting, the 4 return to the classroom and the trial starts. The defense and prosecution take turns questioning the witnesses, the victim, and the defendant.
  5. After all questioning, the defense and prosecution make their final statements to the jury, trying to convince them.
  6. The jury then debates the case and tries to come to a unanimous decision, a verdict.

Law and society: Activity 2

Pass a bill

The class is the legislature. It doesn't have to be the legislature of Taiwan; we can be the lawmakers of any country, even a fictitious one.

The problem is that the government is running out of money, and it needs to find a new source of revenue and/or find ways to save money.


  1. In small groups, try to come up with a bill to address this problem.
  2. As a class, each group takes turns presenting their bill.
  3. Each group tries to get the bill passed. We will spend some time allowing members to visit each other in private in order to try to sway individuals.
  4. In order for a bill to be passed, a simply majority is needed.
  5. We'll start with a public forum in which each group presents its bill. This will be followed by an opportunity to meet individually. Then we'll have a second forum ending in a vote.

Twists and turns