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Fourth Amendment: Teen Police Car Chase

The media glamorizes high-speed police chases as dangerous but exciting. However, this case asks where the responsibility lies in a chase that ends with 19-year-old Victor Harris becoming a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. This activity explores unreasonable seizure during a high-speed chase by examining the Supreme Court case Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. ___ (2007). Participants will answer the question: Did law enforcement violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable seizure during a high-speed chase that ended with a car crash that left the 19-year-old driver paralyzed?

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This activity is a modified Oxford style debate.

  1. To get started, have participants read the Scott v. Harris facts and case summary.
  2. Assign student attorneys to the issues listed in the talking points. They are suggested points– not a script–for the debate. Student attorneys are encouraged to add their own arguments.
  3. All other students are jurors who deliberate (and may refer to these talking points) during the open floor debate. They debate among themselves in the large group or smaller groups and come to a verdict after the attorneys present closing arguments.