In America, the responsibility to protect individual rights and promote the common good ultimately rests with its citizens, not the government. When citizens participate in thoughtful and responsible ways, the welfare of our constitutional democracy is ensured.
While most civic participation is voluntary, the call to serve on a jury is not – it comes as an order by the court. Trial by jury, a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, requires the fair and impartial decision-making of ordinary citizens. It is through juries that “We the People” have a voice in the justice system. Learning about this important duty of citizenship will help students understand jury service as both a responsibility and a privilege.
In this lesson, based on the Annenberg Classroom videos “FAQs: Juries,” students learn about the importance, history, and constitutional foundations of jury service. They become familiar with federal and state juror questionnaires and jury summonses. Students also participate in an attitudinal survey about jury service.
The estimated time for this lesson plan is three to four days.