Seasons of Service

A.P. Environmental Science
A Mock Trial: The Citizens of Roxbury vs. the City of Boston

In January 2000 a report was released called "Unequal Exposure to Ecological Hazards: Environmental Injustices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" written by Daniel R. Faber of Northeastern University. The well-researched report stated that Roxbury has the highest asthma rates in the Commonwealth.

Based on this report, some of the citizens of Roxbury have decided to sue the city of Boston for excessive air pollution in their community. They contend that the MBTA buses at Dudley Square idle at the station, putting out large amounts of fumes because the buses use diesel fuel. School buses also emit large amounts of air pollution. The parents of Roxbury are suing for 25 million dollars to pay for the medical expenses associated with asthma of their children, and sick days of work missed due to medical problems with their families. They are also asking the city to switch to a cleaner gas fueled fleet for the MBTA and school buses.

The city claims that there is no proof that the air pollution caused by the buses is causing the high asthma rates in Roxbury. They contend that asthma is caused by a combination of factors including pollen, dust, dust mites, small animal droppings and hair in the home as well as air pollution.

The class will hold a mock trial to see if the city is guilty as charged. There will be 3 teams. The teams will meet in advance to plan their strategies during the trial. The teams should submit their notes/plans to the teacher as part of their final grade.

  1. The judge, jury and bailiff will discuss the state law and how the jury should act during the trial.
  2. The Defense team is the lawyer who represents the city of Boston. They will discuss their strategy to protect the city from this expensive lawsuit.
  3. The Prosecution will be made up of the citizens of Roxbury who are suffering from family asthma attacks along with the prosecuting lawyer and witnesses.

Write in the names of the students playing each part in the spaces below:

TEAM 1: The Court and Jury:
The Judge: ___________________________________________
The Baliff (who calls the session to order & swears in witnesses): ___________________
The Jury (whoever is not involved with the actual court proceedings): ___________________________,
__________________,___________________,_________________ and _______________________

TEAM 2: The Defense team:
The defense lawyer: _______________________________________
The mayor for the city of Boston: _____________________________________
A bus driver (a witness): _________________________________________
A scientist to testify on behalf of the city: _____________________________

TEAM 3: The Prosecution:
The prosecuting lawyer: _______________________________
Parent #1 who has a 10-year-old girl with asthma and a mother with chronic bronchitis: ________________
Parent #2 who has 8-year-old twin sons with asthma: _______________________________
A doctor to testify on behalf of the parents: ______________________________________

Each person will be graded on:
A. Team work
B. Pre-trial notes and the sources of information.
C. Knowledge of their subject matter and the law.
D. Their presentation during the trial (how authentic was it?

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