This course offers students insight into the principles and dynamics of court trials, mostly as they are conducted in Anglo-American jurisdictions. Students will learn about the role of trials in a lawsuit, and about some of the most important principles guiding trials: the rule of law, due process, jury trials, the burden of proof, the presumption of innocence and the rights of the accused (in criminal cases). Students will learn about the differences between civil and criminal cases. They will also gain practical insight into procedural matters: e.g., How do you interrogate your own witness? How do you object to discredit your adversary’s witness testimony? How do you make opening and closing statements to convince a jury? Skills acquired in this class will also be useful for negotiations and presentations outside of any legal context.
Classes will include both discussions and rehearsals of the various parts of a trial. Our last class will be a full-blown mock trial. One class may be devoted to attending a real hearing at a Hungarian court in Budapest, if circumstances allow.
Readings for this course will be short and practical. Students will learn about various aspects of the trial procedure, which will allow them both to better understand courtroom procedures and to take an active part in them in class.