Subject: Social Studies
Swiss Bank Accountability: Mock Trial
Grade Levels: 9 through 12
By using a variety of sources to construct a case defending and prosecuting the Swiss government for their role in Nazi gold transactions during World War II, students will practice research techniques, persuasive writing and speaking, and critical reading and listening skills.
Sunshine State Standards:
View all Sunshine State Standards
- Grades 9-12
- SS.A.3.4.9, 5.4.5., 5.4.7
- research guidelines
- glossary of trial terms
- trial procedure
- jury ballots
- student evaluations
- Read the charges against the Swiss banks aloud to the class. Explain that the class will be conducting a mock trial to determine an answer to this question.
- Should the Swiss government be held accountable for its actions in regards to Nazi gold transactions during World War II?
Students should volunteer or be assigned to either the prosecution or the defense. It is recommended that the teacher or other adult acts as judge and the jury be comprised of students from another class. Once sides have been established, clearly set the ground rules for pre-trial and trial.
- Up to four attorneys on each team may be designated for trial.
- Students not acting as attorneys will act as litigants, experts, witnesses, and legal assistants.
- Students must follow procedure, and the ruling of a judge is final.
- Research must be conducted and a bibliography for the source of all possible testimony and evidence must be submitted to the judge and opposing council no later than three days prior to trial. Only submitted research can be admitted into evidence.
- Set a trial date and clearly establish grounds for continuation such as, severe illness, death, or change in bell schedule.
Once ground rules are established, give students the evidence research sheet and grading rubric. Begin research and trial preparation. Teams should have the chance to meet with the teacher on an ongoing basis to submit evidence, ask questions, and request materials or equipment. Secure a location for the trial, audio/visual equipment if needed, and invite a jury to attend. In some instances classes have also invited local judges or lawyers from the bar association to act as advisors or judge for the trial. Hold the trial using the trial procedures as a guideline. It may also be helpful to allow jurors to keep notes using paper and pen. Once both sides have rested, the jury is to go to another location to deliberate. Each juror is to receive a ballot. When the jury has reached a verdict the class will reassemble. This may be the same or next day, or a few days later. The foreperson will read the verdict. Once the verdict is delivered, if it is possible, it's useful to have a question and answer session between the jury, prosecution, and defense. This gives students an opportunity to learn about strategy, reasoning behind presenting or not presenting evidence, questioning techniques, and questions the jury felt were left unanswered. This is not a traditional step in the trial process, but it is useful in a classroom setting where different viewpoints and learning styles are encouraged. All jurors should turn in their ballots and the class should have the opportunity to review them. Students are to complete an evaluation of the pre-trial, trial, group participation, as well as, their own participation.
By using the rubric presented at the beginning of the activity students can be given a group grade as well as an individual grade. It is also helpful to meet with both sides and discuss the trial from their perspectives and to take into account the student evaluations.
Research Guidelines and Requirements
To prove your case to a jury you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Swiss banks should/should not be held accountable for their part in the Nazi gold transactions. To do this your team must compile evidence to support your claim. Evidence can be collected from a number of sources including books, newspaper and magazine articles, internet sites, video footage, primary sources, and witness testimony.
Your team needs to gather this evidence, organize it, determine the best way to present it (expert witness, display, audio/visual, etc.) prepare the appropriate witnesses, and gather rebuttal evidence.
- Evidence must be compiled from a minimum of three different mediums and 10 different sources.
- Evidence should be recorded onto index cards using standard notecard format.
- A bibliography needs to be compiled of all evidence sources and two copies need to be given to the judge no later than three days before trial.
- Only evidence from the bibliography may be entered into evidence, so keep an accurate record.
- Because of time constraints it is imperative that all team members work together to gather as much evidence as possible. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.
- Evidence must be presented through in each of the following ways at least once during trial: expert testimony, witness testimony, primary evidence, and visual display.
- Expert testimony:An expert is someone with specific knowledge or research in a particular subject. These witnesses should have evidence to support their testimony. Examples may include: law enforcement, scientists, researchers, or journalists.
- Witness testimony:A witness is someone directly involved with the event in question. They may have participated in, been present at, witnessed, or overheard the event.
- Primary evidence:Evidence is a support to testimony or statements. It may include statistics, pictures, primary documents directly from the event, transcripts, or governmental findings.
- Visual display:These are items large enough for an entire jury to see at one time. They are generally used by an attorney to make a strong point or statement. Displays may include: charts, graphs, photos, highlighted text.
- A determination needs to be made regarding which team members will act as attorneys, witnesses, and legal assistants. Keep in mind the role of each and the strengths of each team member.
- Attorney:Responsible for open and closing statements, questioning witnesses, and entering objections.
- Witness:Take on the role of either a witness or expert. They must be well prepared regarding their testimony and possible questions that may be asked by the opposing team.
- Legal Assistant:Aids in case preparation, gathers evidence for trial, prepares and sets-up visuals, advises attorneys on legal procedure and forming cross-examination.
- Once parts have been assigned, it is important that the team work together to determine the best way to present their case. This includes:
- Opening statement:What does the jury need to know about the case? What will they learn from evidence? What is important for them to remember?
- Case order:What order should the evidence and witnesses be presented in? Prepare witnesses by practicing your questioning and their testimony. Also prepare for the questions the opposition may ask the witnesses.
- Cross-examination:Examine the oppositions evidence list and prepare questions for the possible witnesses.
- Closing arguments:What do you want the jury to leave with? What points do you want to highlight from your case or your opponents?
Now that you have heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence you need to reach a verdict. The jury needs to elect a foreperson that is in charge of the group. The evidence and testimony can be discussed, evidence can be asked for and examined, and votes can be taken at any point and as often as needed. In the case of this trial the jury must only reach a majority for a verdict.
Based on the case presented, should the Swiss banks be held accountable for their participation in the Nazi gold transactions?
Was there one statement, piece of evidence, or witness that persuaded your decision one way or the other? If so, please share it.
Additional input or questions: ___________________________________________
Name ______________________ Team _________________________
Team Position ________________________
How did you specifically contribute to your teams work?
What do you believe was your teams strength?
What do you believe was your teams weakness?
What would you do differently next time?
Use the back for additional comments and information I should address.
Mock Trial Grading Rubric
Medium: ____ 0-2(0) ____3(1) ____4-6(2) ____7 or more(3)
Sources: ____0-9(0) ____10(1) ____11-15(2) ____16-20(3) ____21 or more(4)
Notecards: ____Format(0-2) ____Due date(0-2)
Bibliography: ____Format(0-2) ____Due date(0-2)
Testimony: ____Accuracy(0-5) ____Relevance(0-5) ____Preparation(0-5)
Evidence: ____Accuracy(0-5) ____Relevance(0-5)
Display: ____Relevance(0-3) ____Impact/use(0-3)
Preparation for trial: Was the team ready for trial? Were all team members prepared for their role and was evidence gathered? ____(0-10)
Cooperation and teamwork: Was the team able to mediate conflict, compromise, and work together to accomplish the common goal? ____(0-5)
Case presentation: Was a well organized and convincing case presented? ____(0-20)
Team contributor: Did the individual contribute to the team and work with other members to present the case? ____(0-5)
Role preparation: Did the individual have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and prepare adequately for them? Did the individual attend? ____(0-10)
Scale: 0-20 F
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.