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Do Something about… Teen Voting/Civic Engagement


Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Do Something about… Teen Voting/Civic Engagement
Lesson 8 – Why do I have to do jury duty?
By – Do Something, Inc. /
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Other
Grade Level – 9-12

Do Something about…
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement


The following lesson is the eighth lesson of a 10-lesson
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement Unit from Do Something, Inc.
Other lessons in this unit are as follows:

Lesson 1: What is Civic Action?
Students learn about why people get involved in their communities.
Lesson 2: Why Is Democracy So Demanding?
Students will discuss the role of citizens in a democracy.
Lesson 3: Representin’
Students learn about the system of representation in a democracy.
Lesson 4: How have people used elected offices to make changes?
Students learn how holding a political office effects change.
Lesson 5: Social Capital
Students learn about social capital and how to use networking for civic action.
Lesson 6: Politics, A Laughing Matter
Students learn how cartoons and satire raise concerns about an issue.
Lesson 7: How do organizers bring about change?
Students earn about the strategies of unionizing and boycotting.
Lesson 8: Why do I have to do jury duty?
(See lesson below)
Students learn how jury duty is a type of civic engagement.
Lesson 9: How can I use writing to lead others to action?
Students learn how the written word is a method of civic action.
Lesson 10: How can speaking engage others in my cause?
Students learn how speeches can gather support for community change.

More student teen voting resources can be found at:

For more Service-Learning Curricula check out:

Lesson 8: Why do I have to do jury duty?


Students will learn how jury duty is a type of civic engagement.


Listening Standard 8:

  • Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Reading Standard 5:

  • Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process


  1. Warm-up: Prior to the lesson have the students interview an adult about their thoughts and feeling on jury duty. How did the adult react to the experience? Why? Did they feel that they were taking part in their country or was it a chore? Does this person think having a justice system that relies on its citizens to be jurors is a good idea or not?
  2. Ask students if they view jury duty is a type of civic engagement. Why or why not? Ask students if they knew that until 1966, women did not serve on juries in Alabama, Mississippi, and South Dakota, and that women only became eligible for jury service in all Federal and state courts only in 1972.
  3. Give students some background information on jury trials. Lawyers from each side are allowed to select whom they would like to sit on the jury. Through a questioning process called voir dire (from the French term which means literally “to see to speak”), the judges and attorneys determine if they will dismiss any of the jurors and ensure an impartial jury of a cross section of the community. There are many reasons why jury members might be disqualified. For example, if the lawyer or judge sense the juror already has an opinion about the case or bias for or against any party, the juror can be dismissed. Jurors who benefit directly or indirectly from a decision for a particular side can also be disqualified. Finally, the court can also dismiss a certain number of jurors without cause. Jury selection is an arduous process and can take many months.
  4. Discover: Tell students that you will be simulating the voir dire process. Give students the following scenario.

“Pleasant town High School is large suburban school with over 3000 students. On June 1, 2004, the school hosted a basketball game with a neighboring high school, Brookville High. After a tied game, Brookville won. An hour after the game was over and the crowd had left, seventeen year old John Kramer, a senior at Brookville, found that his car, which had been parked in Pleasant Town high school’s parking lot during the game, had been vandalized. The wind shield was cracked and there were dents throughout the hood made with a blunt object. Someone had spray painted “Brookville Sucks” on the left side of the car. After questioning students who had seen the game, the police were told that seventeen year old Vincent Moray, a senior basketball player for Pleasant Town, had threatened to vandalize someone’s car earlier that night. Some other students described seeing Vincent with a heavy pole in his hand going to the parking lot. John Kramer is charging Vincent Moray with vandalism. If convicted, he could face a severe fine.

John Kramer lives with his parents and sister. Both parents work at Medicine inc., a large pharmaceutical company. John has a clean record, but is currently in a program for alcoholic teenagers. John Kramer works at Big Toe shoes after school.

Vincent Moray lives with his mother, who currently is unemployed. Vincent works at Dookie Dog, a fast-food hot dog chain. He has accepted admission to Sunshine University for the fall.”

  • Give students roles. Explain the terms prosecution and defense and appoint 2-3 attorneys for each side. Appoint a judge. The rest of the students are potential jury members. The jurors should go and create “identities” while both the prosecution and defense attorneys prepare questions to ask the jury. It is during this time, the lawyers must find out who they want to serve on the jury and those that they want to weed out due to a variety of circumstances. Brainstorm with class what these circumstances might be.
  • Have students go through the process of voir dire and select jurors for their trial.
  • Ask students why is the right to a jury trial so important? What are the implications of this rule?
  • Take Action: Has there ever been a lawsuit filed about the issue you and your civic action group is studying? What happened in the trial?

Extended Activities:

  1. Show student how they can affect laws through trials. Look at famous Supreme Court cases such as Brown vs. Board of Education.
  2. Read or watch 12 Angry Men.




Voir dire


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