Debriefing the Jury

Scott Bair, Ohio State University

After all the jury's verdict has been announced, based on the interrogatory questions given to them by the judge, and the fist pumping and high-fives have stopped, there is a wonderful moment when your students want to learn what they did well and what they could have done better. The best part of this is that the teaching is done by the jurors -- their peers. All you need to do to commence a discussion by asking "What evidence did you (the jury) find the most compelling?". That usually sets off a period of give-and-take between the student jurors and your class students. They will tell each other what exhibits worked, what testimony was believable, and what was not. Be sure to solicit feedback from the jurors to cover all aspects of the mock trial. After that, you can relax, listen, and take notes on how to improve the mock trial the next time. My students are usually so excited by the entire day's activities that they go celebrate together.

Don't underestimate the ability of the jurors to comprehend complex concepts such as contaminant transport, sorption of organic compounds, and groundwater flow to wells and under rivers. After all, your jurors are majoring in a variety of departments across campus and their knowledge is fresh.