United States History

Salem Witchcraft Mock Trials


The devil is in New England, and the people want justice. You will act out roles associated with the Salem Witch Trials taking place between Feb 1692 and May 1693, and you will do what you can to convict the guilty parties of their pacts with the devil -- and defend yourself against such heinous accusations!


     • Lord Fairbanks, Presiding Magistrate

     • Prosecuting Attorneys (1-3)

     • Defense Attorneys (1-3)

     • Accusers and Accused

**Click here to download the list of Role Assignments

Court Procedure:

1. Opening arguments

     a. Prosecution

     b. Defense

2. Accusation is made

3. Accused witch/wizard approaches the stand

4. Prosecution calls Accusing witness

     a. Defense cross examines

     b. Prosecution can redirect; Defense can redirect

5. Defense calls Accused witness (defendant)

     a. Prosecution cross examines

     b. Defense can redirect; Prosecution can redirect

*Continue this step until both Prosecution and Defense have called all of their witnesses

6. Closing arguments

     a. Prosecution

     b. Defense

7. Magisterial deliberation

8. Verdict

Written Assignment:

Each student will need to complete a written portion of this activity (typed and double- spaced), and they are as follows:

     Prosecution & Defense – The lawyers acting as prosecution and defense can

          work together to prepare openning and closing statements.  Your openning

          statement should be a 1-2 paragraph statement about the trial in general in

          order to set the stage; your closing should be a 30 second to 1 minute

          conclusion that dramatizes why the magistrate should rule in favor of your

          clients.  Each lawyer must also prepare a set of interview questions used to

          question witnesses during the testimony.  Lawyers should evenly divide their

          clients between themsevles, but should also be prepared to help their fellow

          lawyers with questioning of clients when needed.

     Witnesses – Each witness must assist their lawyers in preparing evidence for

          the trial. As a witness, you must provide at least one piece of substantial

          evidence or testimony to help their lawyers prove their case for or against

          you (this could be a “painting”, a journal entry, etc.). Each witness will also

          need to write a 1-2 paragraph testimony that detailing your statements

          before the court.

     You will not read this testimony to the court! You must present your case as if you were actually testifying.


     • Research and Trial Preparation in the Classroom (50 pts)

     • Everyone must participate in preparing for the trial. If you are caught

          tweeting, snapping, or inappropriately using your class time you will receive

          an automatic zero.

     • Presentation (200 pts)

          1. Does your presentation reflect knowledge of the situation? (20 pts)

          2. Do you play your part adequately – i.e., fulfill your duties in the court

          proceedings? (80 pts)

          3. Does your presentation demonstrate that you have carefully considered

          the evidence? (20 pts)

          4. Does your presentation demonstrate adequate preparation? (40 pts)

          5. Did you come dressed for the part – i.e. courtroom attire, costumes, etc.?

          (40 pts)

     • Evidence (50 pts) – Due at the end of the trial

     Points Possible: 300 pts

Trial Preparation:

     Here's 9 Reasons Why You Might Have Been Suspected of Witchcraft     


     Accused? See this link for ideas of what to do next

     Lawyers: Need ideas on how to object during the trial? Want to know how to beat the other team? Download this: Mock Trial Court Proceedings.pdf

     Need a Search Warrant?

     Your evidence should be substantial and creative -- you need something you can show the court, not simply a verbal testimony

     Find evidence against the accused witches! Search their homes, but be sure to have a search warrant

     Get other witnesses to corroborate (agree with and add to) your testimony

     Are you accused? Be sure to expose the your accusers’ underlying motives or character flaws -- what is the real reason they want you killed for witchcraft?

     Avoid being caught as a time traveller -- be sure your documents have the correct date (Trial takes place between Feb 1692 & May 1693)