1. Begin the class by asking the students what they know about
what basically happens when a case goes to court. Use
an overhead or the blackboard to write out the steps:
The prosecution or plaintiff gives its opening arguments.
The defense gives its opening arguments.
prosecution or plaintiff calls its witnesses.
The defense cross-examines the prosecution’s witnesses.
The defense calls its witnesses.
The prosecution cross-examines the defense’s witnesses.
The prosecution or plaintiff gives its closing arguments.
The defense gives its closing arguments.
The prosecution is allowed a short.
The judge gives the jury its instructions.
The jury deliberates.
The jury hands down its decision (and decides the amount
of damages they will award, if any, in a civil case).
The judge issues the punishment in a criminal case.
2. There are times when the plaintiff or the defendant has
sound legal reasons to ask for the case to be reconsidered.
This is called “appealing a case.” Read Chavez
v. Martinez with the class going through the facts. This is
where most court cases end.
This case, however, had grounds for an appeal to be filed.
Now read through the issue, what are qualified immunity,
the arguments for Martinez, and the arguments for Chavez,
attention to how the arguments were made and the logic behind
them. (Print the Supreme Court Decision and the Dissent on
a separate page to be given to the students separately.)
3. Give the students a few minutes to consider the arguments
and then ask them to put themselves in the place of the judge.
Ask them to write down how they would decide this appeals
case and why they would make this decision. Then hold a class
in which the students present their decisions and why they
made them. Students can also challenge the logic used by
others to make their decisions.
After the class discussion give the students the page with
the Supreme Court Decision and the Dissent. Read the Supreme
Court decision and the Dissent with the students, comparing
how close your class’s ideas were to the actual results.
4. Now give the students just the first page of the Nike,
Inc. et al. v. Kasky, Marc case summary which includes the
of the case, the issue, and the First Amendment. Read through
this with the students.
5. Now divide the class into two groups. Have the students
in one group individually come up with arguments for Marc
Kasky to use to make an appeal for a new court case if he
case. Have the students in the other group individually come
up with arguments for Nike to use to make an appeal for a
new court case if the company loses this case. Arguments
be based on the First Amendment. After the students have
come up with a few arguments (in actuality there are four
for each side) hold a class discussion in which students
from both sides present their arguments. Put these up on
or overhead so the class can refer to reasons already given
as new ones are introduced.
6. After the class discussion give your students page two
of the Nike, Inc. et al. v. Kasky, Marc case summary and
the actual arguments with them. When you read the decision
section make sure that they understand that this case summary
is a slight variation on the process of appealing after a
case is lost since the lower court judge refused to hear
in the first place; this is an appeal to have the case heard.
Review with the students that not every court case is appealed and, of the
cases that petition the Supreme Court to be heard, only about 10% are accepted.
To appeal a case is not a frivolous endeavor and not easily accomplished.
In this lesson the student understanding can be evaluated
by the quality of the verbal responses given during the
class discussions and how extensively the students answered
the questions posed in class which required written answers.
How seriously the students approached their work is another
indication of how engaged they were with the material of
An extra-credit option or enrichment option for this lesson would be to have
the students write a summary of a court trial presented on a television
show. There are numerous popular television shows and movies which are
either centered on a court case or have a court case as an important
component of their plot (such as Law and Order or LA Law). Ask the students
to use the parts of the case delineated in the first activity of the
lesson. In the program that they saw, what happened in each one of those
sections? What were the main arguments of the prosecution or plaintiff
and the defendant?