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Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

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Should the Miranda Warnings Be Required Police Procedure?

In this activity, you will consider the value of that warning from the perspective of various interest groups. After considering these viewpoints, you will make your own decision and try to persuade others to adopt your viewpoint.

Your teacher will assign you to one of the following groups:

  • Law enforcement officials
  • Civil/criminal rights group
  • Federal prosecutors
  • Defense attorneys
  • Victims' rights group
  • General public
Directions
  1. Meet with the other members of your group.  For the duration of this this activity, set aside your personal opinion of Miranda warnings, and think about the case from the perspective of an individual who is a member of your assigned group.
  2. What is your position about the requirement of Miranda warnings?  Consider the following:
    • purpose of the Miranda warning and the extent to which it is successful in achieving that goal
    • extent to which the warning protects defendants and which defendants it protects
    • extent to which the warning helps or hinders law enforcement officials
    • the alternatives to reading the Miranda warning
    • consequences for police, defendants, and the general public of overturning Miranda
    • costs and benefits of the Miranda ruling for your group
  3. As a group, write an outline of your position. Each person should make a copy of this outline, as students will need their own copy for the next step.  
  4. Form a “jigsaw group” composed of students who represent each of the groups.  Discuss your viewpoints, keeping in mind that each individual should argue from the assigned perspective. Can your new group reach a consensus? On what aspects of the issue do you agree? On which aspects do you disagree? All members of the group should take notes.  
  5. The teacher will conduct a discussion to debrief the class.

For Extension

Now that you have heard many different perspectives on the issue, you are in a position to develop your own, educated opinion regarding the requirement that suspects be read the Miranda warning. Convince other members of the general public to adopt your personal viewpoint on this issue by completing one of the assignments below. In your product, clearly state and support your position.

  • Write an editorial.
  • Create a political cartoon.
  • Write a speech to be delivered to an audience. On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph in which you describe the target audience and the speech techniques used.
  • Create a brochure or print advertisement. Your brochure should contain visuals and text. On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph in which you explain the message, the target audience, and the propaganda techniques used.
  • Create a storyboard for a television commercial. On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph in which you explain the message, the target audience, the propaganda techniques, and the video and audio techniques used.
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