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Learning activities

I. Before visiting the exposition with the class:

- Prepare the visit by projecting three films:

Un coupable ideal (JX de Lestrade, 2004) and Rendez-moi justice (D Granier-Deferre, 2007) or Appel en Assises (Sœurs Lancol, 2004).

- Spot the differences between the organisation of space

during a trial in the US and in France.

- Explain all the differences the pupils have noticed.

- View the films again,

after working on the exposition.

II. After the visit:

- Watch an episode of a series or a film featuring a trial in America

and ask the pupils to comment on the differences between the French and the American organisation.

- Do the quiz after visiting the exposition on-line.

If the pupils are hesitant or give wrong answers, they can find the information by revisiting the site.

- With the class, watch an episode of a series or a film of an American trial

and ask pupils to list all the vocabulary they remember after the film (no notes during the film); compare lists and establish a more complete reference document by merging them. See the film again and complete.

- As a class, write a scenario inspired by French criminal law

(if the case is a robbery, the accused will go before a magistrate’s court). Find the correct vocabulary to describe the different stages of the procedure in the on-line exposition (after writing the main plot).

- After viewing the section on justice in the on-line exposition,

switch off the computers and ask the pupils to draw, from memory, a courtroom in the Assize court and say who the different players are and what they do. They can work in groups or alone. When they have finished, comment on the drawings and situate the characters. The same thing can be done after viewing the section on comparative law: draw a courtroom in a criminal court, or a courtroom for first hearings in the United States.

III. Further Developments:

- In Bien Juger, by A. Garapon

(Odile Jacob, 1996),
read the passages on the culture and symbolism of the trial, and the positions of each player in the courtroom. Don’t ask the pupils to read the text, but show photos of courtrooms, etc. and ask them to interpret the symbols, correcting or completing their remarks.

- Visit some courtrooms during the ‘journées du patrimoine’ in France

(a visit rather than attending a trial).

- Invite a law student to speak to the class about how the courtroom is arranged,

who sits where, the roles and the objectives of the lawyers and prosecutors.

- Ask the pupils to choose an offence that might be judged in a magistrate’s court

(not a crime). For example, they may choose the theft of a mobile phone or the possession of a gram of cannabis. The pupils will list those involved in the case (from the police to the court). There is no jury, but other pupils can participate in the discussion, acquitting the defendant or discussing the sentence in the case of guilt. Two or three pupils could make a team for the accusation (prosecutors) others assuring the defence (lawyers). They must meet separately to prepare their strategy. Ask them to define the aim of their arguments. The class must make up a file on the case.

- Visit the site www.justice.gouv.frwith the class.

a) Ask each pupil to choose one aspect they would like to develop and present to the class
b) Do some research on the different kinds of judges in the French system (How many are there today?).

- Prepare interviews

for a judge, a lawyer, an examining judge, a court clerk, a gendarme, an usher, etc.
If any of the pupils know someone in any of these professions, organise interviews on the trial in France, the procedure, the on-going reforms in France.
‘Publish’ these interviews in the school journal.

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