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Courtroom Simulation Roles and Responsibilities — Korematsu v. U.S.

This simulation involves every learning style and has active roles for every student. The centerpiece of the experience is the realistic jury deliberations. The jurors are every student who is not assigned to a designated speaking role.

Participants stand up in court and debate the issues with their fellow jurors. The presiding judge, volunteer attorneys, and student attorneys observe this fish bowl exercise from the well of the courtroom. The jurors in the gallery are guided through the debate by a facilitator who makes sure that everyone has a chance to speak and no one dominates the conversation.

In Advance

Student attorney roles

In the courtroom, before the program starts, the school or organization selects eight student attorneys (four representing Korematsu and four representing the government.) Students do not prepare prior to the event. Preparation time with attorney coaches is built into the courtroom program.

In the Courtroom - Job Descriptions

First three student attorneys on each side

Attorneys #1, #2, #3 on each side must be able to stand at the courtroom podium in front of the Judge and their peers and comfortably read the prepared talking points. There is no memorization and students are encouraged to add their own arguments, if they wish. From the bench, the Judge asks each student attorney follow-up questions that are not scripted so that the student attorneys have the opportunity to think on their feet.

Student attorney #4 on each side

Closing arguments follow immediately after Attorney #3. They are presented by student attorney #4 on each team. This student should be comfortable speaking extemporaneously. A fill-in-the-blank worksheet is provided. During the proceedings, Attorney #4 for each team takes notes on the arguments made by the other student attorneys and also is encouraged to add his/her own arguments.

Student jurors – jury deliberations

The core of the program is jury deliberations. All unassigned students play the most important part – the role of active jurors.  While the student attorneys are preparing outside the courtroom with their coaches, law clerks work with the student jurors in the courtroom.

Student jurors’ preparation while student attorneys prepare in another room

With the two, assigned law clerks or two attorney volunteers, the student jurors in the courtroom go through the worksheet of prepared arguments, which they discuss and classify as favoring either Korematsu or the government. Student jurors prepare in this way so that they know what to listen for in the arguments made by the student attorneys and so that they are primed for their jury deliberations after closing arguments.  The open-floor debate is a simulation of jury deliberations – except that it is conducted in the courtroom as a fish bowl exercise, meaning that everyone else observes but cannot participate.  Student jurors deliberate/argue based on what they hear in court.  However, they can add their own opinions, too.

Program facilitator during the jury deliberations

The program moderator facilitates the simulated jury deliberations. The first task of the facilitator is to take a straw poll and have the student jurors be seated in the gallery behind the party they initially lean toward but are not committed to, yet. The facilitator makes sure that as many students as possible voice their opinions and debate the issues as if they are in a jury room. The moderator interjects questions and comments to keep the conversation moving and doesn’t allow any of the students to dominate the deliberations. Due to time constraints, jurors do not have to come to a unanimous decision. The verdict is determined by a show of hands vote when the judge asks for the verdict.