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Greetings from the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Bar Association. This is the final edition of Law Wise for the 2004-2005 school year. The theme of April’s edition of Law Wise is connected with the American Bar Association’s Law Day theme: “The American Jury: We the People in Action.”
Calendar of Events
History of Law Day
Law Day is a special day focusing on our heritage of liberty under law, a national day of celebration officially designated by a joint resolution of Congress in 1961. Every year, the legal community is joined by national organizations, state and local bars, businesses, and schools in conducting thousands of programs on the rule of law in a constitutional democracy. This year’s theme is “The American Jury: We the People in Action.”
Congressional Resolution Establishing Law Day
The following is the congressional resolution that established the first Law Day:
“The first day of May of each year is hereby designated as Law Day, U.S.A. It is set aside as a special day of celebration by the American people in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States of America; of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other as well as with other nations; and for the cultivation of that respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life.
“The jury, which is the most energetic means of making the people rule, is also the most efficacious means of teaching it how to rule well… The jury … may be regarded as a … public school, ever open, in which every juror learns his rights.”
–Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Law Day is an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate and enjoy our freedoms. The jury is the embodiment of democracy. We entrust juries — small bodies of ordinary men and women — with decisions that involve the liberties and property of defendants. In doing so, we confirm our faith in the ability of people to make just and wise decisions, and that is the very definition of democracy. We also see the jury system as an opportunity to educate Americans in law, legal processes, and decision-making in a democracy.
This article is courtesy of the American Bar Association
The theme of this edition of Law Wise is The American Jury. While many people consider jury service as more of a burden than a right, the majority of Americans who have served on a jury felt it was a privilege and a fulfilling experience. Thomas Jefferson stated, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” Serving on a jury allows for a more democratic government, as it gives ordinary people a role that is central to our judicial system.
The constitution and statutes of Kansas define a party’s right to a jury trial and a citizen’s obligation to serve as a juror. The following material highlights some of the provisions:
The Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights § 5 states, “[t]he right of trial by jury shall be inviolate.” It further states in § 10, “[i]n all prosecutions, the accused shall be allowed … a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.” This has been interpreted to mean that an accused has a right to a jury trial in all felony cases and in misdemeanor cases, where the accused faces incarceration for more than six months. In addition, in misdemeanor cases, where the accused does not face incarceration for more than six months, an accused may have a jury trial if the accused makes a request in writing no later than seven days after notice of trial assignment. K.S.A. 22-3404(1)
There is also the potential for jury trials in juvenile cases. K.S.A. 38-1656 states that “[i]n all cases involving offenses committed by a juvenile, which, if done by an adult, would make the person liable to be arrested and prosecuted for the commission of a felony, the judge may order that the juvenile be afforded a trial by jury.” Id.
Additionally, in civil cases, “[a]ny party may demand a trial by jury of any issue triable of right by a jury.” K.S.A. 60-238
“[J]ury service is the solemn obligation of all qualified citizens, and excuses from the discharge of this responsibility should be granted by the judges of the courts of this state only for reasons of compelling personal hardship or because requiring service would be contrary to the public welfare, health, or safety; that all litigants entitled to trial by jury shall have the right to juries selected at random from a fair cross section of the community in the district wherein the court convenes; and that all citizens shall have the opportunity to be considered for service on juries in the district courts of Kansas.” K.S.A. 43-155
“No employer shall discharge or threaten to discharge any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court in Kansas.” K.S.A. 43-173
The county jury commissioner prepares a list of persons qualified as jurors from voter registration records of the county, lists of licensed drivers residing in the county, enumeration or census records for the county, and lists of holders of state-issued nondrivers’ identification cards who reside in the county. K.S.A. 43-162
The county jury commissioner then randomly selects persons from the jury list to serve as prospective jury members. Each member of the jury pool is sent a questionnaire to complete. The questionnaire may include questions regarding the person’s name, age, residence, occupation, and qualifications as a juror, with a view to the due and faithful jury service of such person and such questions involving similar matters relating to all persons living in such person’s residence. K.S.A. 43-161
After a pool of prospective jurors has been assembled for a trial, the prosecuting attorney and the defendant’s attorney question the prospective jurors. The court may conduct an additional examination. The court may limit the examination by the attorneys if the court believes such examination to be harassment, is causing unnecessary delay or serves no useful purpose. K.S.A. 22-3408(3)
The jury decides questions of fact, while the judge decides questions of law. K.S.A. 22-3402(3)
If a person attempts to get placed on a jury or attempts to get a certain other person placed on a jury, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined not less than five dollars for each offense. K.S.A. 43-127
If a prospective juror is summoned to court but fails to appear without excuse, the prospective juror shall be fined up to $100 per day. K.S.A. 43-165
If a prospective juror refuses to answer the questionnaire, the prospective juror shall be cited for contempt of court. If a prospective juror willfully provides false answers to the questionnaire, the prospective juror shall be guilty of a class A nonperson misdemeanor. K.S.A. 43-161
The Law-Related Education Inventory has the following items that might be useful in working with students on the jury process:
The Law-Related Education Inventory has many resources to help teach about law-related topics. To order a catalog, call Janessa Akin at the Kansas Bar Association, (785) 234-5696. The Kansas Bar Association and the lawyers in your community sponsor the Law-Related Education Inventory. The clearinghouse will mail free copies of lawrelated posters, games, mock trials, booklets, lesson plans, and other aids. It is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The director of the Teachers College Resource Center, which houses the Law-Related Education Inventory, Marla Darby, can be reached at Darbymar@esumail.emporia.edu/.
Grade level: Elementary
Objective: In this lesson students gain some understanding of the challenges faced in selecting a fair and impartial jury.
Reread Goldilocks or read the ABA Goldilocks mock trial (can be ordered on ABAWeb site) to become familiar with the details of the story (the case). For older students, make classroom sets of the handout listing potential jurors. (See handout below)
Begin by saying, “In the United States, anyone who is accused of a crime has the right to a trial by an impartial jury. A jury decides if the accused is guilty or not guilty. Ideally all members of a jury come to the trial without any bias about the accused. They can listen to all the evidence during the trial and decide on the basis of what they hear. They can be fair. Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Pretend that Goldilocks is on trial for breaking and entering the bears’ house, and several creatures have been summoned for jury duty. Our task is to choose jurors who are most likely to be fair and impartial.”
Older students: Distribute copies of the list of potential jurors. Working in small groups, students should decide who they would choose to serve on the jury. In debriefing, probe for why they chose these and not the others.
Younger students: Write the names of each juror, in turn, on the board and read the sentence that describes them. Ask: “Do you think ________ would make a good juror. Could he/she be fair and impartial? Why or why not?” If time is limited, choose a sample that includes more obvious and less obvious selections and rejections.
Grade Level: Middle School
Objective: This lesson requires students to generate courtroom rules that help ensure a fair trial.
Preparation: Make enough copies of the handout below for the entire class.
Questions by Attorneys
Kinds of Evidence
Testimony by Witnesses
Additional Law Day Information Available
Are you looking for more information regarding the upcoming Law Day? Look no further! Go to www.abanet.org/publiced/lawday/home.html to find additional lesson plans, Law Day quizzes, and much more. While visiting the site, be sure to sign up for the ABA’s free Law Day e-mail list to receive Law Day ideas, planning tips, and updates.
Grade Level: High School
Objective: This lesson focuses on the antecedents to the modern-day jury system in the United States.
Preparation: Make enough copies of each “exhibit” in the handout below for one-third of the class.
Exhibit I: The jury system came to the English colonies with the first settlers. In those days, the jury was the most representative arm of government. In many states, a landed aristocracy controlled the legislature, the clergy, the military, and other societal institutions, but juries were made up of common people, and almost all male citizens had experience as jurors.
Exhibit II: Although English law provided for trial by jury, the Crown did not allow jury trials for colonists accused of violating the hated Stamp and Navigation Acts of 1765. In response, when writing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the colonists castigated King George III for “depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury.”
Exhibit III: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed. U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, 1791 — Amendment VI
In [civil lawsuits], where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined by any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, 1791 — Amendment VII
The Kansas Bar Association Young Lawyers Section (KBA YLS) annual High School Mock Trial Competition State Tournament took place Saturday, April 2. The tournament was held at the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita. Six schools from across the state participated in the competition. Participating schools included:
The Independent High School from Wichita won the competition and will be attending the National Competition on May 5-7, 2005, in Charlotte, N.C. Shawnee Mission East High School was the runner-up, and Blue Valley North High School was the second runner-up. The KBA YLS pays the registration fees for the National Competition and provides a $3,000 scholarship for the State Champion to be used for travel and lodging for the team and its coach.
Three individual awards and one team award were given to students participating in the State Competition. Students from the Blue Valley High School won the awards for “Best Witness” and “Best Opening Statement/Closing Argument.” The Wichita South team won the “Good Sport” award (an award they also won at the Regional Competition in Wichita). A student from the Independent High School won the “Best Direct or Cross Examination” award. Sponsors for these awards included the Wichita Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, the Law Office of Joni Franklin, and Papa John’s Pizza.
The High School Mock Trial Competition is open to Kansas High School students. Each team is made up of three to four attorneys and three witnesses. The students make opening statements, closing arguments, and examine three witnesses as a part of the competition, alternating between prosecution or plaintiff and defendant throughout the competition. The case materials are released in November before the competition to allow the students plenty of time to prepare. The KBA YLS attempts to alternate between civil and criminal cases each year. Local attorneys volunteer to assist each participating school in preparing for the competition.
One of the rounds at the competition was videotaped for use in promoting the competition. If you know a school or teacher who would like more information about this competition, including a copy of the videotape, or contact information for an attorney who has volunteered to assist with coaching a team, please contact Janessa Akin at the Kansas Bar Association for details.
Law Wise is published by the Kansas Bar Association during the school year. The Kansas Bar Foundation, with Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts funding, provides support for this publication. Published free, on request, for teachers or anyone interested in law-related education, it is edited by Crystal Marietta, Pittsburg, (620) 231-5620.
For further information about any projects or articles, contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, Topeka, (785) 296-4872, or Janessa Akin, Public Services Director of the Kansas Bar Association, Topeka (785) 234-5696.
Law Wise is printed at the Kansas Bar Association, 1200 Southwest Harrison, P.O. Box 1037, Topeka, Kansas 66601-1037.
The American Bar Association offers a free newsletter that contains information on law-related education. Law Matters, which reports on developments, ideas, programs, and resources in the field of public education about the law, is published three times each year. Every issue includes a special focus on a contemporary legal issue; news about important developments in law and education; and reviews and updates on print, video, multimedia, and online resources.
To order Law Matters, go to www.abanet.org/publiced/lawmatters/subscribe.html and fill out the subscription form.
On Your Own: A guide to your legal rights and responsibilities as an adult
On Your Own is a booklet published by the Kansas Bar Association and is intended to give general information on a few areas of the law that impact a young person setting out on their own. The main topics include alcoholic beverages, on the road, on the job, domestic relations, renting and leasing, credit where credit is due, smart buying, consumer problems, climbing the complaint ladder, seeking legal representation, voting and public services, and if you are arrested.
For the Record: A guide to your rights and responsibilities as a young adult
For the Record was produced by the KBA’s Public Information Committee in cooperation with the Kansas Supreme Court. It is 10 pages and includes the following main topics: Family, If I’m in trouble …, Am I old enough to …, and School. These main topics are then broken into several subparts with one to two paragraphs of general explanations of each one.
These publications can be found in their entirety on the Kansas Bar Association Web site. Go to www.ksbar.org, click on Public Resources, and then Public Information Pamphlets.