“The Old Rugged Cross” Lesson 3

Chapter 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “The Old Rugged Cross”


Students will view media, statistics and use the personal stories from this chapter to prepare them for a jury selection simulation and evaluate the “fairness” in judicial overrides.

Prior to Instruction:


  • Read “The Old Rugged Cross” (pp.67-92)
  • View media clips
  • Think about grouping strategies for your class ahead of time
  • Review “Juror Snapshot” handout and make adjustments (if needed)
  • Review terms that students may ask about:
    • Habeas corpus
    • Atkins vs. Virginia
    • Override
    • “Untimely” evidence
    • VA (Veterans Benefits Administration)
  • Project “Do Now” on screen
  • Explore the database for Veteran Affairs* (optional)


  • see notes*

Warm Up:

*There are two parts to this “Do Now”

Do Now:

Step 1: List as many groupings of people that live in the United States. (i.e. Asian Americans, teenagers, men, etc.)

Step 2: Read the Preamble to the Constitution.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”                                            

  1. Summarize the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution


  1. Choose a clause in the preamble and evaluate how true it is when considering “due process” and “fairness.” Use examples from current events/popular news to support your ideas.
  2. Review both “Do Now” responses as a class; creating an inclusive list on the board will be helpful for students. You may event want to draw a line down the board for a Then | Now chart. This will be helpful because there may be some groups of people that were not initially included as part of the preamble (for various reasons i.e. not living in the U.S. at time of its publication).
  3.  Follow up questions:
    • Is there a difference regarding the diversity between then/now? (some answers may vary, one key word to help you and students navigate this topic is the word “acknowledged” because some groups may not have been acknowledged as citizens at one point in history (African Americans/Slaves).
    • Do you think this is true today for some groups?
    • What is the summary of the Preamble? What key words helped you arrive to your conclusion?
    • Can you think of a group or groups that FEEL like they are not included as part of the “We the people” clause. Explain your response with examples.


  1. Explain to students the objective of the lesson and summarize the point of today’s lesson.
  2. Ask students what it means to “override” something. Is it typically in a positive or negative context?
  3. Does an “override” by a judge reflect the principles of the Preamble?
  4. Might it ever be appropriate for a judge to override a jury’s decision? Explain.
    1. Can you think of examples of “overrides” in society? Why do they happen?
      1. Interview committee, teacher/student, etc.
    2. “Close-Read” pp 69-70; “Lindsey received…election years.”
    3. Project media clip on screen.
      1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6AYmzunPlQ

Jury Simulation Activity:

  1. Group/Pair students (2-4)
  2. Provide students with a case (for example, use Horace Dunkins’ case or another case later in the story.) Offer minimum details about the case (attempted murder case, car theft, etc.)
  3. Instruct groups to think of 3-5 questions (relevant to the case) that should be posed to potential jurors. Use these to help guide selection of juror members.
  4. Distribute “juror snapshot” handout and instruct groupings to unanimously agree on 12 jurors and an alternate.
    1. Provide a rationale for choices
  5. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp (database for Veteran affairs)

Closing/Wrap up:

  1. Share one contentious juror your group decided to include on the jury panel and provide a rationale for your group’s decision OR share questions you would ask jurors to ensure a fair trial.

Extension Activity:

  1. Point students to the following link and ask students to respond to the following prompt(s):


  1. Journal a response to today’s activity. Do “overrides” undermine due process?
  2. Based on the stories in chapter 4, the media clip(s), and NPR article, should veterans suspected of violent crimes be held to the same laws as someone who hasn’t been to war?
  3. Brainstorm a list of resources that should be made available to war veterans. Explain how these resources would be beneficial to “We the people…



*Short on time?  Assign students do part 1 of the “Do Now” activity and to familiarize themselves with key terms prior to class.