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The Judicial Process

The Judicial Process
Law, Courts, and Judicial Politics

March 2015 | 400 pages | CQ Press
The Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Judicial Politics is an all-new, concise yet comprehensive core text that introduces students to the nature and significance of the judicial process in the United States and across the globe. It is social scientific in its approach, situating the role of the courts and their impact on public policy within a strong foundation in legal theory, or political jurisprudence, as well as legal scholarship. Authors Christopher P. Banks and David M. O’Brien do not shy away from the politics of the judicial process, and offer unique insight into cutting-edge and highly relevant issues. In its distinctive boxes, “Contemporary Controversies over Courts” and “In Comparative Perspective,” the text examines topics such as the dispute pyramid, the law and morality of same-sex marriages, the “hardball politics” of judicial selection, plea bargaining trends, the right to counsel and “pay as you go” justice, judicial decisions limiting the availability of class actions, constitutional courts in Europe, the judicial role in creating major social change, and the role lawyers, juries and alternative dispute resolution techniques play in the U.S. and throughout the world. Photos, cartoons, charts, and graphs are used throughout the text to facilitate student learning and highlight key aspects of the judicial process.

Part 1: Law and Political Jurisprudence in a Globalized Society
Chapter 1: The Politics of Law and Courts in Society
Legal Systems

In Comparative Perspective: Major Global Legal Systems

Legal Systems and Globalization

The Nature and Sources of Law

The Role of Courts in Contemporary Society

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: The Dispute Pyramid

Chapter 2: The Politics of Law and Jurisprudence
Classical Theories of Jurisprudence

In Comparative Perspective: Law, Morality, and Same-Sex Marriages

Contemporary Theories of Jurisprudence

Contemporary Controversies over Courts: Is Cannibalism Ever Legally Justified?

Part 2: Judicial Organization and Administrative Processes
Chapter 3: Judicial Organization and Administration
The Origins of U.S. Courts

Contemporary Judicial Federalism: State and Federal Courts

The Politics of Judicial Administration and Reform

In Comparative Perspective: Constitutional Courts in Europe

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: Should the Public Finance State Judicial Elections?

Chapter 4: Judicial Selection and Removal
Staffing State Courts

Staffing Federal Courts

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: The Hardball Politics of Filibusters, "Nuclear Options," and Recess Appointments in Federal Judicial Selection

Toward a Representative Bench and a Career Judiciary?

In Comparative Perspective: The Career Judiciary in Japan

Part 3: Access to Courts and Judicial Decision Making
Chapter 5: The Practice of Law
The Rise of the American Legal Profession

Contemporary Legal Education and Bar Admission

In Comparative Perspective: Legal Education and Lawyers in Western Democracy

The Business of Legal Practice

Access to Lawyers and Equal Justice

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: The Right to Counsel and "Pay As You Go" Justice

Chapter 6: Access to Courts and Justice
Formal Barriers

Discretionary Barriers

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: Tactics for Constitutional Avoidance: "Passive Virtues" or "Subtle Vices"?

Organized Interests and Strategic Litigarion

In Comparative Perspective: Comparative Constitutional Law, Interest Group Litigation, and Capital Punishment

Chapter 7: Trial Courts: The Adversarial Process and Criminal Cases
The Adversarial Process

The Criminal Law and the Justice System

Prosecutorial Discretion: From Arrest to Formal Arraignment

Plea Bargaining

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: Plea Bargaining, the Right to Counsel, and Global Trends

Trials and the Jury's Role

In Comparative Perspective: Jury Systems Around the World

The Politics of the Post-Trial Sentencing Process

Chapter 8: Trial Courts: Civil Cases and Litigation
Adversarial Civil Justice

Civil Lawsuits: The Trial and Appeal Process

The Politics of Tort and Civil Litigation Reform

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: The Roberts Court and Class Action Lawsuits

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In Comparative Perspective: The Global Expansion of ADR

Part 4: Judicial Policymaking
Chapter 9: Appellate Courts and Decision Making
The Appellate Decision Making Process

Studying Judicial Decision Making

In Comparative Perspective: Are Judges "Politicians in Robes" or Not?

Statutory Interpretation

Constitutional Interpretation

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: How Should Judges Interpret the U.S. Constitution?

Chapter 10: The Scope and Limits of Judicial Power
Judicial Policymaking

In Comparative Perspective: The European Court of Justice and The Globalization of Judicial Power

The Impact of Judicial Decisions

The Limitations of Judicial Power

Contemporary Controversies Over Courts: Do Courts Forge Major Social Change?



Instructor Resource Site
Available for instructors is a password-protected resource site featuring graphics from the book

“This book is simultaneously deep and comprehensive.  It covers every topic that is appropriate for a judicial process course.  Although courts are legal institutions, and students must learn basic elements of the law, courts are largely political in nature.  Professors Banks and O’Brien do an outstanding job explaining both the legal and political elements of the judicial process.”

Steven Tauber
University of South Florida

“In addition to the standard topics, Banks and O’Brien also cover jurisprudence, which is a very welcome addition in a judicial process text.”

John Gruhl
University of Nebraska

“A very clear and well developed organization to the book that addresses major components of the study of the courts; one of the real strengths is the comparative approach to garner a better understanding of how the American judicial system compares to other judicial systems.”

Michael J. Bitzer
Catawba College

This is the text that previous professor utilized and it met my needs.

Professor Arthur Melton
Sociology Dept, Alice Lloyd College
August 16, 2020
Key features


  • The book’s unique interdisciplinary perspective provides an in-depth analysis of legal theory and political jurisprudence, topics that are frequently absent from other judicial process textbooks.
  • In Comparative Perspective boxes introduce students to cutting-edge analysis of issues of law and courts in different countries and illustrate how judicial politics varies throughout the world.
  • Contemporary Controversies over Courts boxes acquaint students with the key controversies and debates over courts and judicial politics today.
  • A glossary facilitates an understanding of legal terminology, while Appendix A provides students with practical sources and strategies for conducting their own legal research and writing, and Appendix B lists the historical and contemporary membership of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Each chapter has a chapter summary, key questions for review and critical analysis, web links, and selected readings that highlight key issues and offer students guidance for further research.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 10

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