This mock trial is based upon the old Irish folk song, The Black Velvet Band. It takes 3-5 class hours to complete. Because the mock trial involves drinking, I've included some civics/health lessons on how easily a person can become intoxicated by alcohol as part of the trial.
The basic story is a guy goes to a bar with his buddy to drink and he is caught with a stolen pocket watch and sent to prison. The song has a number of variations, depending upon who is singing it. In some cases, the guy is guilty, in others the barmaid steals the watch and tricks him into getting caught. It's fun to play a version of the song after the trial.
I've used this mock trial for standard-level as well as honors-level high school students. Interestingly enough, the standard-level students get into the trial more fervently than the honors kids. By the way, all of the names of the characters are either Irish historical figures, Irish singers or characters in traditional Irish songs.
This mock trial is an accordion trial: You can do it with as few as nine students, and I've done it with as many as 28 students. For trials with small classes, I have drawn my juries from study hall volunteers, a larger “outside audience” which adds an incentive for students in my classes to take the trial seriously. Alternatively, you could just have a bench trial where the judge decides the case.
There are certain witnesses that can be eliminated or consolidated for smaller classes, and they are marked as such below, and you can adjust the number of attorneys on each side from 1-3 based upon the class size.
It is tracked to Common Core and Massachusetts state educational standards.
Note: This mock trial is included in my book "Primary Source American History," along with The Case of the Flaming Brake Pads mock trial (civil), 80 primary source U.S. History readings, a mock congress and several dozen projects review worksheets. If you like this (or the free readings on my store), consider getting the complete set for a little bit more.