Many Are Called; Few Are Chosen: A Jury Selection Simulation
High School Teacher
Cranford, New Jersey
Tenth through twelfth grade students
There are a very few opportunities for the average individual to actively participate in the workings
of their government. Voting, military service, and jury duty are the most common. The purpose of
this activity is to clarify the need for citizen participation on trial juries, as mandated by the sixth
Amendment to the Constitution.
As with many situations, jury duty has been demeaned by gossip and misinformation. Many people
dread serving jury duty. Some even go to the point of sacrificing their right to vote for fear of having
their name detected by a computer scanning the voter lists for future jurors. While far from being a
perfect situation (and this simulation will bring up negative as well as positive virtues), jury duty is
more likely to be appreciated by those who have been part of its workings. In the words of Sir
William Blackstone, the eminent 18th century English legal scholar, the trial by jury is "...the grand
bulwark of our liberties...the most transcendent privilege which any subject can enjoy or wish for."
Thus, this activity hopes to familiarize students with the system and their role in its development.
However, there are many educational goals which may be realized through this activity. Students
must satisfactorily exhibit the following skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking. analysis, and role
play. Statutes, the Constitution, and facts must be read in an accurate manner. Effective questions
must be written by lawyers and responded to in an appropriate fashion by prospective jurors. The
judge and the lawyers must also develop listening skills as they attempt to choose a valid jury.
Observers must pay attention to these responses as they judge the fairness of the procedure. Students
will speak to their peers in a manner that attempts to be convincing. After considering the information
presented, lawyers, observers, and the judge must analyze these statements to determine who should
remain on the jury.
The jury selection simulation should provide students with familiarity about one of our most
important democratic institutions. In addition, students will be able to test their abilities and skills in
an enjoyable atmosphere.
MATERIALS AND RESOURCES
In addition to the common materials (blackboard, xerox, etc.), the following can be utilized: copies
of your state's jury duty laws, jury duty forms, and the juror's oath; copies of the case that will be used
for the simulation; name plates (can be made out of construction paper) for the judge and lawyers;
numbers for each juror's seat; copies of your state's voir dire procedure.
Human resources should also be utilized. Those who have served on juries can be invited to the class
to speak about their experiences, as can lawyers and judges who can lend their professional expertise.
The government official who is responsible for having citizens report for jury duty will also be a good
resource for his/her expertise and as a provider of relevant forms.
1. Devote some time to a discussion of the concept, history, and importance of jury duty. This might
be a good opportunity to do some comparative study of other countries and their legal system.
2. The voir dire's rationale and procedure should be explained. As each state has its own peculiar
style, consultation with lawyers or judges would be advantageous.
3. Assign roles, or ask for volunteers for the simulation. The following numbers are merely
suggestions, and your class size is of importance in determining the final numbers. Roles include: 1
judge; 2-3 lawyers per side; 6-12 potential jurors (any more jurors might tend to make the exercise
a tedious one); everybody else will be observers.
4. Prepare a simple case (example follows) and distribute a copy to all participants, except for the
The case should include the following: a simple fact pattern, the defendant's background, sample
questions for potential jurors, explanations of the peremptory challenge and challenge for cause.
5. Prepare roles for students who will portray the individual jurors. Provide students with a
background that they should try to portray when answering the questions of lawyers and the judge.
Some categories might include: age, sex, race, occupation, previous jury experience, views on the
crime or civil dispute in question, etc.
6. Preparation will require that each team of lawyers discuss their questioning strategy in hopes of
seating a "favorable" jury. The judge should understand the challenge procedures and conceptualize
what types of challenges will be upheld. Potential jurors should try to assume as much of their
character as possible, trying to presume questions which they might be asked. Observers should read
the case and project the qualities of a "good" juror for this particular case, and all trials in general.
7. The actual voir dire might be set up along the following pattern: Set up the room to best simulate
a courtroom; provide nameplates for each character; the plaintiff begins questioning juror #1,
followed by the defense's questions and any challenges to juror #1; the judge (who may also question
the juror) rules on any challenge; juror #2 is questioned first by the defense, then the plaintiff, with
the same procedure as used for juror #1 (alternate which side starts the questioning of each juror);
allow any unused peremptory challenges (place a limit of 2-3 per side) to be utilized after all jurors
have been questioned.
8. A debriefing session should follow the conclusion of the simulation. Students can reflect on their
roles, the strategy they employed, and their feelings about the jury system.
This activity, including speakers and related assignments, should take about 5-7 class periods. If only
the simulation is used, that should take 3-4 periods.
The success of this activity can be measured by an increase in student perception of, and appreciation
of, the jury system. This can be measured through class discussion, quizzes, and reading assignments.
Some follow-up activities could include: reading assignments about juries (history, selection, etc.);
field trip to the court, specifically to see a jury selected; debates on controversial topics such as
eliminating the peremptory challenge or restricting the questioning process to the judge; analyzing
cartoons which have juries as their themes.
Facts: Louis Goldberg and Angelo Lombardo have been indicted for a violation of New Jersey's laws
on gambling. Their store, "Ange and Lou's Confectionery' was raided by the police on the basis of
a search warrant issued by a superior court judge. The probable cause for the search warrant was
based on some undercover investigations by the police. This was the second time that the defendants
have been arrested on a similar charge. The previous arrest resulted in a verdict of guilty.
Schooling: 11th grade
Marital Status: Divorced
Prior Record: 1 arrest?, 1 conviction
Schooling: High School
Marital Status: Married
Prior Record: 3 arrests, 1 conviction
1. What type of work do you do?
2. Have you any jury experience?
3. Do you have any prior information or opinion about this case?
4. Would you tend to place greater emphasis on the testimony of a police officer, as opposed to an
5. Have you been to Atlantic City? Often?
Statute: New Jersey Statute 2A:112-2: "Any person who has or keeps in his place of business, or
other premises, any slot machine...is guilty of a misdemeanor."
The National Constitution Center's Warren E. Burger Repository of Lesson Plans