- Why is the appeals process important to the protection of individual rights?
BackgroundThe due process clause requires states to follow fair procedures before depriving individuals of “life, liberty or property.” For example, when someone is imprisoned, his individual right of liberty is taken away. The more important the individual right in question, the more important due process is. For example, no one can receive the death penalty without the rigorous protections and procedures of a criminal trial. These protections include the right of the individual to appeal the court’s decision if he or she is found guilty.
Graphic Organizers: Flow ChartUse the following chart to explain the appeals process to students. As you explain, have students fill-in-the blanks on the blank chart.
Use the case of Gideon vs. Wainwright to illustrate how important the appeals process is to protecting due process and the rights of individuals. Give students a copy of the text below that provides a brief description of the case.
Lead a class discussion about the case using the following questions as a guide:
- Do you think that Right to Counsel means that everyone should be provided with a lawyer whether they can afford or not? Explain your answer.
- Who is the appellant in this case?
- Which court had original jurisdiction?
- Why do you think this is considered to be an historical case?
Case StudiesDivide students into eight groups. Prepare duplicate chart paper sets with the following scenarios written at the top:
- The police suspect you of a crime. They speak English but you do not and can’t understand what they are saying to you. You are taken to jail and asked to sign a sheet of paper that later turns out to be a confession. You have not been told you can ask for a lawyer before you sign the confession. You go to trial and are found guilty and sentenced to prison for a period of 10 years.
- You have been sentenced to 30 years in prison each for kidnapping. You are now 20 years old. By the time you may gain your freedom, you could be 60 years old. You are innocent.
- The police have mistaken your home for the home of a dangerous drug dealer and gang member. One night, as you are watching television, they suddenly break down your door. Five policemen enter your living room with guns drawn. You try to resist, but they throw you to the floor, put your hands behind your back, handcuff and arrest you. Later you are charged with resisting arrest and found guilty.
- You are a high school student. Your country is involved in a war that you wish to protest. You decide you will do this by wearing a black armband to school. However, school officials feel that the armband is disruptive and unpatriotic. The principal tells you that you will be suspended from school until you decide that you will no longer wear the armband. There has not been any kind of rule about wearing arm-bands or anything else that represented a political protest, but after you wear the armband to school, the board of education creates a rule against any type of political protest at school – including wearing armbands.
When the students have had adequate time to create a possible conclusion to the scenarios they have been given, ask each group to report out what they have concluded will be the outcome of each of the scenarios according to whether or not they have or do not have due process rights.
Check for Understanding
- In one sentence explain what you think life might be like in countries where individual rights are not protected as they are through the due process clause of the United States Constitution?
Thinking Skills: Think/Pair/Share
Graphic Organizer: Map of the EventAsk students to Think/Pair/Share about the following statement:
Check for Understanding
Describe a situation in which you would be very glad to have the Miranda warning read to you? How would you react?