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Courts
A Text/Reader

Third Edition


September 2018 | 536 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

“The book is a focused, well-written, and adequately resourced introductory text on the court system.”
—Anita Kalunta-Crumpton, Texas Southern University  

Courts: A Text/Reader, Third Edition, helps students understand the U.S. court system in context, with each brief authored section of the text enhanced by edited research articles that illustrate the questions and controversies in the judicial system today. The articles reflect both classic studies of the criminal court system and state-of-the-art research, and they often have a policy perspective that demonstrates the potential impact research can have on the court system. Designed to enhance understanding, the book includes a helpful “How to Read a Research Article” section before the first reading, as well as article introductions and discussion questions that capture students’ interest and help them develop critical thinking skills.   

New to the Third Edition

  • Ninety percent of the journal articles have been updated and introduce students to important topics, such as the effects of trial judges’ sex and race, perceptions of plea bargaining, wrongful convictions, and the sentencing of drug offenders.    
  • New “Current Controversy” debates in each chapter highlight contentious issues in the courts, such as public defender caseloads, the impact of social media on criminal trials, and the need for more drug courts.  
  • A new “Current Cases” boxed feature elaborates on recent key court decisions and the impact they have had on issues such as defining “effective” counsel, racial bias in sentencing and jury deliberations, and the importance of judicial impartiality.
  • Coverage of critical topics has been expanded throughout to introduce students to important issues, such as specialized courts, bail and pretrial release, the death penalty, and restorative justice.
  • Statistics, graphs, and tables have all been updated to demonstrate the most recent trends in the court system.

 


 
Foreword
 
Preface
Why This Book?

 
Structure of the Book

 
New to This Edition

 
Acknowledgments

 
 
SECTION I. Introduction: Courts and Case Processing
Why Study the Courts?

 
The Role of Courts in the Criminal Justice System

 
The Structure and Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts

 
A Brief Historical Overview

 
Federal Courts

 
State Courts

 
The Juvenile Court

 
Court Actors

 
Overview of the Criminal Process

 
Justice, the Law, and Packer’s Models of Criminal Justice

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
How to Read a Research Article

 
READING 1. The Process Is the Punishment

 
READING 2. Wrongful Conviction: Perceptions of Criminal Justice Professionals Regarding the Frequency of Wrongful Conviction and the Extent of System Errors

 
 
SECTION II. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Law and the Courts
What Is Law?

 
How Judges “Make Law”

 
Development of the Common-Law System

 
The Rule of Law

 
Contemporary Sources of Law

 
Sources of Individual Rights

 
What Is the Difference Between Criminal Law and Civil Law?

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 3. Ideological Divisiveness in Criminal Procedure Cases: Measuring Variability in U.S. Supreme Court Outcomes

 
READING 4. The Racial Politics of Due Process Protection: Does Partisanship or Racial Composition Influence State-Level Adoption of Recorded Interrogation Policies?

 
 
SECTION III. Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys
The Adversarial System

 
Prosecutors

 
Defense Attorneys

 
Diversity in the Adversarial System

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 5. Violated Trust: Conceptualizing Prosecutorial Misconduct

 
READING 6. Prosecuting Intimate Partner Sexual Assault: Legal and Extra-Legal Factors That Influence Charging Decisions

 
 
SECTION IV. Judges and Jurors
Judges and Jurors: Fact Finding and Applying the Law

 
Judges

 
Jurors and Jury Decision Making

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 7. Representation on the Courts? The Effects of Trial Judges’ Sex and Race

 
READING 8. Jury Nullification: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

 
 
SECTION V. Pretrial and Trial Processes
The Pretrial Process

 
Plea Bargaining

 
The Trial Process

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 9. The Impact of Race, Gender, and Age on the Pretrial Decision

 
READING 10. Confession Evidence: Commonsense Myths and Misconceptions

 
 
SECTION VI. Plea Bargaining and Trial Dynamics
Plea Bargaining

 
The Courtroom Workgroup

 
Media Influence in Criminal Trials

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 11. Justice Served? Perceptions of Plea Bargaining Involving a Sexual Assault in Child and Adult Females

 
READING 12. Is a Plea Really a Bargain? An Analysis of Plea and Trial Dispositions in New York City

 
 
SECTION VII. Sentencing
The Goals of Sentencing

 
The Judge’s Options at Sentencing

 
How Do Judges Decide? Modeling the Sentencing Process

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 13. Do the Drugs, Do the Time? The Effect of Drug Abuse on Sentences

 
READING 14. Sentencing Transferred Juveniles in the Adult Criminal Court: The Direct and Interactive Effects of Race and Ethnicity

 
 
SECTION VIII. The Appellate Process
The Appellate Courts

 
Underlying Concepts

 
The “Right” to Appeal

 
Appealing to a Higher Court

 
The Writ of Habeas Corpus

 
Considering Clemency

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 15. Merciful Justice: Lessons From 50 Years of New York Death Penalty Commutations

 
READING 16. Preventing Wrongful Convictions: An Analysis of State Investigation Reforms

 
 
SECTION IX. Specialized Courts and Other Trends in Adjudication
Problem-Solving Courts

 
Drug Treatment Courts

 
Domestic Violence Courts

 
Other Problem-Solving Courts

 
Juvenile Courts

 
SUMMARY

 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 
KEY TERMS

 
WEBSITES

 
READING 17. An Integrated Theory of Specialized Court Programs: Using Procedural Justice and Therapeutic Jurisprudence to Promote Offender Compliance and Rehabilitation

 
READING 18. Domestic Violence Courts: A Multisite Test of Whether and How They Change Offender Outcomes

 
 
Glossary
 
References
 
Index
 
About the Authors

“The book is a focused, well-written, and adequately resourced introductory text on the court system.”

Anita Kalunta-Crumpton
Texas Southern University

“A combination of both research articles and text to understand the court system. The use of research articles increases the text’s scholarly approach to criminal justice.”

William R. Pruitt, J.D., Ph.D.
Virginia Wesleyan College

“I would describe the text as a comprehensive discussion of important issues related to the processing of criminal cases. I would especially emphasize the authors’ use of journal articles and the related questions in the development of the literature on criminal courts.”

Jimmy J. Williams
The University of Alabama

“This is a well-written and concise text that provides additional resources for students who are learning about the court system.”

Lisa M. Olson
Southeastern Louisiana University

The title should reflect that the book is about the criminal justice process.

Professor Karen Swenson
Political Science Dept, Eastern Illinois University
September 6, 2019
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION:

  • Ninety percent of the journal articles have been updated and introduce students to important topics, such as the effects of trial judges’ sex and race, perceptions of plea bargaining, wrongful convictions, and the sentencing of drug offenders. 
  • New “Current Controversy” debates in each chapter highlight contentious issues in the courts, such as public defender caseloads, the impact of social media on criminal trials, and the need for more drug courts.
  • A new “Current Cases” boxed feature elaborates on recent key court decisions and the impact they have had on issues such as defining “effective” counsel, racial bias in sentencing and jury deliberations, and the importance of judicial impartiality.
  • Coverage of critical topics has been expanded throughout to introduce students to important issues, such as specialized courts, bail and pretrial release, the death penalty, and restorative justice.
  • Statistics, graphs, and tables have all been updated to demonstrate the most recent trends in the court system.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Substantially edited and abridged articles make this text easier to read, without doing injustice to the core points raised in the articles or detracting from the authors’ key findings and conclusions. Much of the methodological discussions and data analysis are removed.
  • A “How to Read a Research Article” guide tied to the book’s first section provides a perfect introduction to understanding how research is organized and delivered in the journal literature.
  • Key terms, web resources, and thought-provoking discussion questions for each section and each reading help readers master the content and sharpen critical-thinking skills.

For instructors

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Paperback
ISBN: 9781544307947
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