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Frankenstein on Trial

As a result of Victor Frankenstein’s experiment in creating life, many people died. Should
Frankenstein be held accountable for the deaths that his creature caused? Because Frankenstein
purposefully created a being through unnatural means, he is being tried for that creation’s crimes.
Witnesses from the novel as well as fictional experts will be called to the stand to testify to their
knowledge based on events in Frankenstein. Our ultimate frame of reference in this project will be
the information provided in the novel.

In most trial situations we would find it an inconvenience that all our would-be witnesses are dead.
We won’t let that stand in our way—we’ll call them any way!

Charge: Victor Frankenstein is accused of being morally responsible for the murders his
creation committed.

1. Opening Statements: Each side will begin with an opening statement, prosecution then defense.
That speech should be 3-5 minutes in length, and should give the judges a road map as to where that
side’s arguments will head.

2. Prosecution: The prosecution will go first in laying out their case. They will call a maximum of
five witnesses and elicit facts advantageous to their case by asking appropriate questions. The
questions must come from the list submitted prior to the trial. When a prosecutor is through with
each witness, a defense attorney may cross-examine by asking questions to bring out points
important to their case. Be careful how you word your questions.

3. Defense: When the prosecution has finished, the defense team will call their five witnesses to ask
their pre-arranged questions. The witnesses will be subjected to cross-examination by the
prosecutors to elicit information important to their case.

4. Expert testimony: Either side may plan to call expert witnesses, but it must be with prior
arrangement. As you plan your case, submit a request to the bailiff for an expert in a certain area.

5. Objections: Either side may object to what an opposing lawyer says based on several points:
o Leading the witness: To be used if an attorney phrases his or her question in such a manner
that the answer is being provided instead of allowing it to flow from the witness
o Text violation: To be used if anyone, attorney, witness or expert, says something that is
incorrect as regards information in Frankenstein. Can be brought up by anyone in the court.
o Relevance: To be used if an attorney asks irrelevant questions.

The bailiff will keep track of who is able to make text violation objections, and against whom. They
will be worth points on your final grade.

6. Closing statements: Prosecution and then defense attorneys will end with wrap up comments of
3-5 minutes each tying their case together and endeavoring to sway the judges to their point of view.

1. Chief judge and two or more other judges: They will maintain order in the court. They will be
making the ultimate decision of Frankenstein’s innocence or guilt. They will rule on all objections.
Each will write up his/her view of Victor’s guilt or innocence after hearing the arguments and
evidence. They must have an excellent overall understanding of events in the story.

2. Prosecutors: They will organize and prepare witnesses and write questions to be asked of each
witness. They will prepare and deliver opening and closing statements. They will make their case
through questioning of witnesses on the stand. They should take notes during the defense attorney’s
direct questioning, and then cross-examine the defense witnesses.

3. Defense attorneys: They will organize and prepare each of their witnesses and write questions for
each witness and the defendant. They will prepare and deliver opening and closing statements. They
will make their case through questioning of witnesses on the stand. They should take notes during
the prosecutors’ direct questioning, and then cross-examine the prosecutors’ witnesses.

4. Witnesses: They will fill out Witness Fact Sheet. They will meet with prosecuting or defense
attorneys (which ever plan to call them) to prepare for testimony. They’ll review facts about their
persona in the novel and answer attorney’s questions in writing. For witnesses, it’s important to stay
in character. If desired, they may come in costume at the trial.
a. Victor Frankenstein f. William Frankenstein
b. Creature g. Henry Clerval
c. Robert Walton h. Professors Krempe and Waldman
d. Justine Moritz i. Experts (as required by attorneys)
e. Elizabeth Lavenza
5. Court Recorder/Bailiff’s Assistant: He/she will swear in witnesses and take notes on trail. He/she
will prepare a news story concerning the trial’s outcome at the end.

6. Court Bailiff: She is responsible for order in the court, for the court calendar, and for arranging
for expert witnesses. (Mrs. Clemens)

Name _______________________________

Witness Name ______________________________________

Information Page

Physical facts



History in
relation to


of death

Opinion of
Other important information
Name _______________________________________
PREPARING FOR TRIAL (Judges and Recorder/Bailiff)

Considering the Witnesses:

Witness Likely Contributions to Likely Contributions to Defense

Prosecution Case Case

Victor Frankenstein


Robert Walton

Elizabeth Lavenza

William Frankenstein
Henry Clerval

Justine Moritz

M. Krempe, M.

Experts (specify)

Thoughts and analysis:

What is “moral responsibility”?

What are some other examples of some one being responsible for something that happens that they
didn’t directly do?

When are there mitigating circumstances such that person who might be considered responsible no
longer is?

Other relevant thoughts:


The work you do will be graded on the quality of the preparation you do as reflected in the written
products you turn in, as well as your effectiveness in the actual trial. Here are requirements for
written products coming out of this trial:

Attorneys: (You will each earn the same grade.)

1. Questions to each witness they expect to call. Be specific, and be sure that the way you word
your question will further your case.

2. Text of opening/closing arguments. These are supposed to be 3-5 minutes speeches and so
each must be at LEAST one page in length, typed-double space.


1. Background “Preparation” worksheet. Since the judges are supposedly the experts on the
“Law” (which in our case is the novel), as well as logical thinkers, take some care to think
through issues that may come up during trial. Be careful to keep an open mind when listening
to attorneys’ arguments. Your background sheets will be passed to the attorneys to give them
some extra food for thought.

2. Notes taken during the trial from which you will write your verdict.

3. Written ruling after the trial giving your opinion of the verdict. You must justify that verdict in
a three-paragraph write up based on notes you took. Be sure that it’s the effectiveness of the job
each attorney does proving his or her case and not your personal opinion that determines your
decision. In your write-up you must discuss what aspects of the attorneys’ cases caused you to rule
as you did.

Recorder/Assistant Bailiff:

1. Background “Preparation” worksheet. Prepare carefully (pretend you’re a judge-in-training.)

2. All notes taken during the trial.

3. A five-paragraph news story reporting on the trial. Be sure your write-up is in pure journalistic
style, using the 5W format, and less important facts following afterwards. Keep in third person
objective point of view, neutral tone.


1. “Witness Fact Sheet” prepared before trial. Be thorough and careful about citations of source,
including page numbers.

2. Answers to all the questions that the attorneys plan to ask upon direct examination. You may
have those sheets with you on the stand, as well as your book. At least 50% of your answers
must be through direct quote or based directly on something in the text.

3. A two-paragraph write up after the trial discussing the part your character played in the trial and
the verdict.
Grading Criteria:

Quality of questions prepared ______/30

Quality of opening/closing arguments and delivery ______/30

Courtroom work in questioning witnesses and cross examination ______/20


Quality of decision write up ______/40

Thoughtfulness of background preparation ______/20

Notes taken in court, from which you will write your decision ______/20


Quality of written preparation using “Fact” sheet/expert preparation ______/25

Thoroughness of questions answered, using at least 50% quotes or text-based

explanations ______/25

Effectiveness on the stand in keeping in role and being aware of persona ______/10

Quality of post-trial write up ______/20

Recorder/assistant bailiff:

Quality of notes taken ______/15

Thoughtfulness of background preparation ______/20

Effectiveness in performing courtroom functions ______/15

Quality of news article write up ______/30


Each objection on which you make a correction of someone’s textual ______/+1


TOTAL ______/80 pts