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Civil Trial: Texting While Driving

This activity is based on a civil suit arising from a car crash that may have been caused by texting while driving. In the trial simulation, participants will play different roles and learn about some of the legal and long-term consequences that can arise when texting while driving.

About these Resources

  • Use the agenda as a guide during a classroom or courtroom event.
  • Read the fictional scenario describing the accident of a high school driver who may have been texting while driving on a federal parkway.
  • The witness stand script provides all the speaking parts for the trial simulation.
  • Use the jury deliberation to help participants understand how to determine the verdict.
  • Use the discussion questions to check for understanding.

General Resources

These supplemental resources provide additional information on federal court trials and the job of attorneys and jurors.

How to Use these Resources

This trial simulation can be done in the classroom or courtroom. In a classroom, students play all the parts in this scripted simulation. In a courtroom, a real federal judge presides and attorneys coach the student lawyers at the counsel tables. Pre-assigned students play the parts of witnesses. All other students are jurors who deliberate in groups of 12.

The trial simulation is followed by a conversation with probation officers about a series of situations — like texting while driving — that young people do not realize can have legal and long-term consequences. Follow the detail program agenda for the activity.

In Advance of the Program

Read the preparatory handouts for teachers, teacher-selected students with speaking parts, and host judges (if in a courtroom). Four participants are chosen in advance to be the attorneys — two for the plaintiff and two for the defense. Witnesses are chosen in advance. The judge, the participant attorneys, the teacher attorneys, and witnesses are the only ones who receive the script in advance. All other student participants do not receive the witness stand script.

  1. Start by review the agenda to see a timeline of the activity.
  2. Read the fictional scenario describing the accident.
  3. Assign speaking roles and read the witness stand script.
  4. Learn more about court trials by reading differences between opening statements and closing arguments.
  5. Additional resources are available in the guide to writing closing arguments.
  6. Start the jury deliberation and determine the verdict.
  7. Learn more about the role of jurors in deciding the verdict in the jury instructions.
  8. Check for understanding using the discussion questions: Reality Check Quiz — Sometimes There Are No Do-Overs