You are here


A Text/Reader

Second Edition

© 2012 | 664 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Courts: A Text/Reader provides the best of both worlds: authored text sections and carefully selected accompanying readings that illustrate the questions and controversies legal scholars and court researchers are investigating in the 21st century. The articles—from leading journals in criminology and criminal justice—reflect both classic studies of the criminal court system and state-of-the-art research, and often with a policy perspective that makes them more applied, less theoretical, and more interesting to both undergraduate and graduate students.


Section I. Introduction: Courts and Case Processing
Section II. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Courts
How to Read a Research Article
1. The Process Is the Punishment: Handling Cases in a Lower Criminal Court, by Malcolm M. Feeley  
2. The Honest Politician?s Guide to Juvenile Justice in the Twenty-First Century, by Barry C. Feld  
3. The Rehnquist Court and Criminal Justice: An Empirical Assessment, by Christopher E. Smith  
4. Wrongful Conviction: Perceptions of Criminal Justice Professionals Regarding the Frequency of Wrongful Conviction and the Extent of System Errors, by Robert J. Ramsey and James Frank  
Section III. Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys
5. Violated Trust: Conceptualizing Prosecutorial Misconduct, by Heather Schoenfeld  
6. Prosecutorial Justifications for Sexual Assault Case Rejection: Guarding the ?Gateway to Justice? by Cassia Spohn, Dawn Beichner, and Erika Davis-Frenzel  
7. Prosecutorial Discretion in Seeking Death: An Analysis of Racial Disparity in the Pretrial Stages of Case Processing in a Midwestern County, by Jon Sorensen and Donald H. Wallace  
8. Representing the Accused: Professional Values and Professional Choices of Small-Town Lawyers, by Alissa Pollitz Worden  
9. Indigent Defenders Get the Job Done and Done Well, by Roger A. Hanson and Brian J. Ostrom  
Section IV. Judges and Jurors
10. Judges and the Politics of Death: Deciding Between the Bill of Rights and the Next Election in Capital Cases, by Stephen B. Bright and Patrick J. Keenan  
11. Reflections on a Rape Trial: The Role of Rape Myths and Jury Selection in the Outcome of a Trial, by Judy Shepherd  
12. Racially Based Jury Nullification: Black Power in the Criminal Justice System, by Paul Butler  
Section V. Pretrial Proceedings
13. The Relationship Between Type of Attorney and Bail Amount Set for Hispanic Defendants, by K.B. Turner and James B. Johnson  
14. The Impact of Race, Gender, and Age on the Pretrial Decision, by Tina L. Freiburger and Carly M. Hilinski  
15. Criminal Prosecution of Domestic Violence Offenses: An Investigation of Factors Predictive of Court Outcomes, by Kris Henning and Lynette Feder  
Section VI. Plea Bargaining and Trial Dynamics
16. Prosecutorial Discretion and Plea Bargaining in the United States, France, Germany, and Italy: A Comparative Perspective, by Yue Ma  
17. Court Caseloads, Plea Bargains, and Criminal Sanctions: The Effects of Section 17 P.C. in California, by James W. Meeker and Henry N. Pontell  
18. Variation in Trial Penalties Among Serious Violent Offenses, by Jeffery T. Ulmer and Mindy S. Bradley  
19. The Entertainment Value of a Trial: How Media Access to the Courtroom Is Changing the American Judicial Process, by Jeffrey S. Johnson  
Section VII. Sentencing
20. Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and Imprisonment, by Cassia Spohn and Dawn Beichner  
21. The Interactive Effects of Victim Race and Gender on Death Sentence Disparity Findings, by Marian R. Williams and Jefferson E. Holcomb  
22. The Juvenile Penalty: A Comparison of Juvenile and Young Adult Sentencing Outcomes in Criminal Court, by Megan C. Kurlychek and Brian D. Johnson  
Section VIII. Beyond Conviction and Sentencing
23. The Federal Habeas Corpus Process: Unraveling the Issues, by Robert D. Pursley  
24. Criminal Justice System Reform and Wrongful Conviction: A Research Agenda, by Marvin Zalman  
Section IX. Specialized Courts and Other Trends in Adjudication
25. The Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court: One-Year Results From a Randomized Study, by Denise C. Gottfredson and M. Lyn Exum  
26. Combating Domestic Violence: Findings From an Evaluation of a Local Domestic Violence Court, by Angela R. Gover, John M. MacDonald, and Geoffrey P. Alpert  
27. Teen Court Referral, Sentencing, and Subsequent Recidivism: Two Proportional Hazards Models and a Little Speculation, by Andrew Rasmussen  
Credits and Sources
About the Authors


Instructor Teaching Site

A companion website at includes

  • A password-protected Instructor Teaching Site, featuring test questions, PowerPoint slides and sample syllabi
  • An open-access Student Study Site

This is an excellent supporting textbook for my module 'Criminal Justice and the Penal System' as the module takes both a UK and US perspective.

Ms Janice Holloway
Department of Law, Aberystwyth University
June 27, 2016

This textbook is a bit difficult for the class.

Mr Jordan etcitty
Education , New Mexico St Univ-Grants
August 20, 2015

This book is entitled to highest compliment. My students are not native English-speakers and have no clues of US Courts system, but they enjoy reading this book. It provides them in-depth content with easily understanding way. Figures, readings and web resources help them a lot.

Professor Lipin Tien
Department of Law, Management College, National Defense University
December 11, 2012
Key features


  • A new section in the book on pre-trial sentencing lends currency to the new edition.
  • Updated articles reflect the latest research in the field.
  • Expanded coverage in the authored introductions for each section provides even more support for readers.
  • SAGE journal articles that were removed from the First Edition are now available on the study site to give readers a broader selection of readings from which to choose.


  • Edited readings introduce students to classic studies of the criminal court system and to cutting-edge research on decision making by court actors.
  • An introduction to each reading gives students an overview of the purpose, main points, and conclusions of each article and evaluates their policy implications.
  • How to Read a Research Article—tied to the first reading in the book—guides students in understanding and learning from the research articles.
  • Mini-chapters precede the selection of readings and offer clear and concise explanations of key terms and concepts in each section, coupled with boxes with special interest topics and review materials that enhance student comprehension.

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781412997188