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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
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.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Reading 5. Violated Trust: Conceptualizing Prosecutorial Misconduct


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