Lesson 1: Due Process Rights

 

Topic:

 What is Due Process?

Background:

 Due process refers to the means, guaranteed by the Constitution, for insuring that the government provides justice to its citizens in all legal proceedings. With regard to the criminal justice system, due process means that a defendant accused of a crime must be told of the charges against him or her, have the opportunity to present a defense against such charges at a trial, and have the services of counsel and the right to an appeal. These due process rights derive from the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments to the Constitution. Although the first ten Amendments were intended to apply only to actions of the Federal Government, over the years the courts have been able to extend due process rights to those accused of violating state law via the 14th Amendment, that says, "No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." This legal principle is known as "incorporation".

Objectives:

 Students will be able to:

  • Express their attitudes towards "due process" issues.
  • Draw conclusions about the meaning of "due process" after analyzing the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Materials:

Handout 1A "Survey: Due Process"

Handout 1B "Survey: Due Process Amendments"

Time Required:

2-3 class periods

Procedures:

Distribute Handout 1A, "Survey: Due Process." Have students complete the survey. Then, divide the class into groups of four.

Ask half the groups to discuss their reactions to statements 1-4 and the other half their reactions to statements 5-8.

Then, as part of the whole class discussion, ask students to explain their answers to the following questions:

To the groups that discussed statements 1-4:

With which of the four statements did you have the greatest agreement within your group? Explain. With which of the four statements did you have the greatest disagreement within your group? Explain.

To the groups that discussed statements 5-8:

With which of the four statements did you have the greatest agreement within your group? Explain. With which of the four statements did you have the greatest disagreement within your group? Explain.

Individually, with which statement did you most strongly agree?

Individually, with which statement did you most strongly disagree?

How can you explain why there has been so much disagreement among Americans over these issues?

In general, which do you believe is more important: maintaining law and order for society as a whole or insuring the individual rights of defendants?

Distribute Handout 1B,"Due Process Amendments." Ask students to stay in their groups, having at least one group re-write in their own words a different one of the five Amendments on the handout. Depending on class size, it might be the case that two groups will be asked to re-write the same Amendment.

After giving groups sufficient time to complete the task, ask one member in each group to:

Write the group’s version of the Amendment on the chalkboard

Explain the re-written Amendment in his or her own words.

As part of the whole class discussion, ask students to explain their answers to the following questions:

  • What are the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments about?
  • What do we learn about the rights of criminal defendants from these Amendments?
  • Why are these Amendments called the "due process" Amendments?
  • Which of these is most important Amendment in guaranteeing a criminal defendant due process?
  • Based on reading these Amendments, how do you think courts decided the 8 issues on Handout 1A?
  •  In your own words what does the 14th Amendment mean when it says, "No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law?" The courts have taken this Amendment to mean that the rights guaranteed by the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments should apply to those accused of violating criminal laws in any state. What arguments can you make supporting this point of view? What arguments can you make opposing this point of view?

Performance Assessment:

 Using Handout 1A, have students conduct a survey consisting of a sampling of 10 people, including some combination of adults and their peers. After tabulating their results, class members should write a one-page summary describing the survey and their conclusions. Finally, ask students to present a five minute oral report of their findings.

After the class discussion, have students complete the exercise at the bottom of Handout 1B. Then have students present and defend their definitions of due process to the class.

Further Enrichment:

Based on multiple intelligence theory.

Linguistic: Ask students to collect and summarize newspaper articles in which due process rights are at issue. Invite members of the legal community who are knowledgeable about due process rights for a Q & A session with the class.

Logical/Mathematical: Students should use logical reasoning to explain why some of the actions described in the statements in Handout 1A, "Survey: Due Process" violate one of the amendments listed in Handout 1B, "Due Process Amendments" (Amendments 4,5,6,8,14).

Kinesthetic: Students should enact an incident involving one of the actions described in Handout 1A, "Survey Due Process."

Spatial: Show students excerpts from the movie, "The Oxbow Incident." Have students identify examples of due process rights that were denied to the accused.

Intrapersonal: Have students determine which due process rights they consider most important. Students should then list the due process rights in order of importance and discuss how they feel about violations of the most important rights.

Students should envision how life would be different if due process rights did not exist.

Interpersonal: Divide the class into equal sized groups. Each member of the group should do research and become an expert on one of the due process rights explained in the lesson. Students should share the information they learn through research with their group and the group should decide what they believe are the most important due process rights.

Musical: Students should identify lyrics to songs that are concerned with due process rights. Look especially at modern rap songs.

Ask students to collect newspaper articles in which due process rights are at issue.

Invite attorneys, judges, and/or paralegals to class for Q & A session about due process.

Show students excerpts from the movie the Oxbow Incident. Have students identify examples of due process rights that were denied to the accused defendants in the movie.


Handout 1A: DUE PROCESS RIGHTS

Survey: Due Process

Instructions: Indicate your reactions to these statements by placing a check in the appropriate box.

 

Statements

Strongly Agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

1. After a crime has been reported, the police should be allowed to immediately search any person or place they wish for evidence, without having to obtain legal permission from a judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. If the police find evidence that an individual or individuals have committed a crime, they should be able to use it in a trial, even if it is obtained illegally (e.g. by breaking into a house without a search warrant).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. As long as torture is not used, an individual who is arrested should be required to answer any question about the crime asked by a law enforcement official.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Law enforcement officials should not be required to warn a defendant upon arrest that "anything you confess can and will be used against you."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. If a person is found not guilty in a first trial, a second trial on the same charge(s) should be permitted, if new evidence has been found that might lead to the conviction of the accused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Those defendants who are too poor to hire their own attorney, should be provided with one only in cases where the person accused may be executed if convicted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Jury trials should be required only in cases where a defendant may be executed if convicted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Even if it is cruel and unusual punishment, the death penalty should be permitted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Handout 1B: DUE PROCESS RIGHTS

Due Process Amendments"

In your own words, re-write the amendment below assigned to your group.

Due process rights

Re-write in your own words

• Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, ...describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

 

Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a(n) ...indictment of a grand jury ...; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ...

 

 

Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury ...; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

 

 

Eighth Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

 

 

 

Fourteenth Amendment: ... No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

 

You work for the publisher of a textbook who has asked that you write a definition of "due process" that most students in the 8th grade will understand

Due process: