The Mystery of Lizzie Borden: An Overview

Below you will find an outline of a mock trial project for a high-beginner to intermediate course.  This is a three-week program.

Week 1: Preteach

1. Introduction: Discuss unsolved mysteries

2. How the US Criminal Trial process works

3. Vocabulary for courtrooms

4. Quizlet list

5. Test: use Quizlet to generate a test for the 20 vocabulary words


Week 2:

1. Introduce story (watch video for homework and discuss in class)

2. lizzie borden mock trial test

3. Assign student roles (see below)

4. Begin individual and collaborative (if students are on the defense or prosecution teams)

1.  Overview: Characters, authentic transcript, history

2. Newest information about the case

3. Lizzie Borden House

4.Documentary about the Case – History Channel

5.Short Background about story

6. 9 things you didn’t know about Lizzie Borden

7. Why it will always be a mystery

8. Biography: Lizzie Borden


Week 3:

1. finishing statements (see below)

2. Mock Trail! (need one room for the “court” and a second room for the jury to “adjourn” to.  Jury members meet with teacher and each must give a 2-3 minute opinion before their collective vote and return to the courtroom for the final decision.


Judge – calls court to order, presides over case, gives judgement and sentence (if guilty)

Prosecuting Attorney team (2) (one does opening statement, one does closing – both cross examine)

Defendant – (Lizzie Borden)Defense Attorney team (2) – (one does opening statement, one does closing – both cross examine – refer to bio on A.V. Jennings)

Witness – (Bridget Sullivan) (prosecution) testimonyWitness – (John Morse) (prosecution)   testimonyWitness – Emma Borden –   testimony

Witness – Ms. Adelaide Churchill –  testimony

Witness – (Dr. Benjaminn Handy) –   more info

Witness – (Hyman Lubinsky) –   testimony

Jury  – rest of the class (must present their reason for their vote)



Mock Trial Rubric
Criteria Ratings Pts
Active Participation
Full Marks

25 pts

No Marks

0 pts

25 pts
Speaking role *
Full Marks

50 pts

No Marks

0 pts

50 pts
Preparation and Research
Full Marks

25 pts

No Marks

0 pts

25 pts
Total Points: 100

* Judge, Lawyers, and Defendant must speak throughout the trial.

* Witnesses must research their character and answer questions under cross-examination.

* Jury members must speak for teach during adjournment for 2-3 minutes.


Statements to Prepare:

  1. The Prosecutor’s Statement
  2. The Defendant’s Statement
  3. The Prosecutor Calls Witnesses (and defendants have an opportunity to cross-examine)
  4. The Defense Calls Witnesses (and prosecution has an opportunity to cross examine)
  5. The Prosecutor’s Closing Statement
  6. The Defendant’s Closing Statement
  7. Deliberation of the Jury
  8. The Verdict

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