Evaluate the credibility of the witness (Tom Randall). Is the witness believable?The Test of Critical Thinking Abilities Tom Randall Halloween Party Case We live in a complex world filled with challenging and often perplexing issues that we are expected to make sense of.
Many social issues are analyzed and evaluated through our judicial system. This test is designed to give you the opportunity to think seriously and express your ideas about a complex social issue. Imagine that you have been selected to serve on a jury that is asked to render a verdict on the following situation. The defendant, Tom Randall, is a twenty-one-year-old college senior in a state where the legal drinking age is twenty-one. On October 21, he hosted a Halloween party in his apartment. Twenty-eight men and women attended the party. Alcohol was served, in the form of beer, wine, and liquor. One of the partygoers was Kelly Greene, an eighteen-year-old freshman at the same college. During the course of the evening, Ms. Greene allegedly consumed an undetermined amount of alcohol. While she was driving back to her dorm after the party, at approximately 12:15 a.m., Ms. Greene struck two students who were crossing the street at an intersection. One student, Melissa Anderson, was killed instantly. A second student, Edward Montgomery, was hospitalized with multiple fractures. The police officer at the scene gave the following report regarding the driver of the car, Kelly Greene: “I noticed that her speech was slurred, that she was not entirely coherent, and that her breath smelled of alcohol. I asked her to take a Breathalyzer test to determine the amount of alcohol in her bloodstream. She refused. I placed her under arrest.” Ms. Greene has been charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Vehicular Manslaughter. Her case is currently pending. Mr. Randall, the defendant in this case, is being charged with Involuntary Manslaughter. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in jail. Instructions: For this week’s written assignment, go to the following link, read the material provided and answer questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. http://college.cengage.com/english/chaffee/thinking_critically/8e/students/activity_randall/index.html Step One: The evidence at judicial trials is presented through the testimony of witnesses called by the prosecution and the defense. To be effective critical thinkers, we should not simply accept information as it is presented. We need to try to determine the accuracy of the information and evaluate the credibility of the people providing the information. The testimony from the prosecution witnesses and the defense witnesses is described below. Evaluate the testimony by answering the questions that follow each witness. Prosecution Witnesses Helen Brooks I am the downstairs neighbor of the defendant, Thomas Randall, and have lived in the building for twenty years. These college kids tend to be noisy and keep late hours, especially the boys. I really don’t see how they’re able to learn anything at the college. Wild parties every weekend and sometimes even during the week. This party on Halloween was one of the wildest. Music loud enough to make your head burst; kids jumping around—I guess they call it dancing—so that the ceiling was shaking. Finally, at midnight I went up to ask them to please keep it down—after all, it was Thursday night and some of us have to work. What a scene! A young woman was leaving just as I arrived. I later found out she was Kelly Greene, the woman who ran over those two college students. Mr. Randall had his arm around her and was saying goodbye. The way she was acting—giggling, stumbling around—it was obvious she was drunk. She was an accident waiting to happen, and it did! A. Summarize and evaluate all the information provided by the witness (Helen Brooks). Is the information relevant to the guilt or innocence of the defendant (Tom Randall)? Is the information accurate? Give reasons to support your answer. B. Evaluate the credibility of the witness (Helen Brooks). Is the witness believable? Is the testimony fair or unfair, objective or biased? Are there factors that raise doubts about the accuracy of the testimony? Give reasons to support your answer. William Doyle I attended the party at Tom Randall’s apartment on Halloween. I didn’t actually receive an invitation—I came along with someone who did. I don’t really know him that well. This was a pretty wild party. The place was jammed, and people were out of control! Dancing, drinking, laughing, singing—you know. Mr. Randall was making the rounds, making sure that everyone was having a good time, encouraging them to drink. I saw him talking to Kelly Greene on several occasions. He kept forcing her to drink, even though she didn’t seem that willing. He said things like: “Have another drink, it’s the only way to have fun at parties like this,” and “Don’t worry, another drink won’t kill you.” I didn’t think he should have been doing that, pressuring her to drink and all. I really like Kelly. This is her first year here at school, and she’s really sweet. I don’t think she would have gotten in this trouble if she hadn’t been encouraged to drink too much. She’s only 18, a fact I’m sure Tom was aware of. As the host, it’s his responsibility to make sure that illegal drinking isn’t permitted and that when people leave they are capable of driving safely. C. Summarize and evaluate the information provided by this witness (William Doyle). Is the information relevant to the guilt or innocence of the defendant (Tom Randall)? Is the information accurate? Give reasons to support your answer. D. Evaluate the credibility of this witness (William Doyle). Is the witness believable? Is the testimony fair or unfair, objective or biased? Are there factors that raise doubts about the accuracy of the testimony? Give reasons to support your answer. Defense Witnesses Wendy Duvall I’ve known Tom Randall for three years, and he’s one of the finest and most responsible people I know. Tom is a serious student, and he is also a very caring person. He plans to be a teacher and works as a volunteer with special education students in a local school. He would never do anything to intentionally hurt anyone. His only purpose in having the Halloween party was for people to enjoy themselves. He paid for the whole thing himself! As far as people drinking is concerned, the fact is that drinking is one of the major social activities on campus. Virtually everyone drinks, from their first semester until their last. It’s just the way things are here. People just don’t pay attention to the drinking age on campus. It’s as if the college is its own little world, with its own rules. The people at the party weren’t drinking because Tom was pressuring or encouraging them to. They were drinking because that’s what they do when they go to parties. If Tom hadn’t had alcohol there, people would have gone out and brought some back-or gone to a party that did have alcohol. I didn’t see Tom talk to Kelly, but he was circulating, trying to be a good host, seeing if people needed anything. He certainly wouldn’t try to “pressure” someone into having a drink they didn’t want to have. What happened with Kelly was a terrible, unfortunate accident—it certainly is something Tom should not be held responsible for. A. Summarize and evaluate the information provided by the witness (Wendy Duvall). Is the information relevant to the guilt or innocence of the defendant (Tom Randall)? Is the information accurate? Give reasons to support your answer. B. Evaluate the credibility of the witness (Wendy Duvall). Is the witness believable? Is the testimony fair or unfair, objective or biased? Are there factors that raise doubts about the accuracy of the testimony? Give reasons to support your answer. Tom Randall (defendant) I had been planning this Halloween party since school started in September. I thought that it would be fun and give me a chance to pay back students who had invited me to their parties. I had plenty of food and beverages on hand—soda and juice, as well as alcohol.