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Criminal Courts

Criminal Courts
A Contemporary Perspective

Fifth Edition

January 2021 | 528 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Comprehensive and engaging, Criminal Courts: A Contemporary Perspective explores all aspects of courts and related areas which are crucial to the criminal justice system. Written by three nationally recognized experts in the field, this text examines court structure, courtroom actors, trial and appeal process, and in addition, judicial decision making, specialized courts, and comparative court systems. 

By presenting up-to-date key cases, data, and current controversial discussions such as the death penalty or legalization of cannabis, this fifth edition provides students with opportunities to view topics from the perspectives of the participants involved in the process and take a position on the issue that is raised. 

About the Authors
Section I: The Purpose and Structure of American Courts
Chapter 1: Introduction: Law and the Judicial Function
Why Study Courts?

What Is Law?

The Code of Hammurabi

Two Opposing Perspectives: Consensus and Conflict

What Is the Relationship of Law to Justice?

The Rule of Law

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

Two Models of Criminal Justice

Judicial Functions

How Judges “Make Law”

Development of the Common Law System

The Role of Courts in the Criminal Justice System

Chapter 2: Sources of Law

Sources of Law

Sources of Individual Rights

Standard of Review

Incorporation of the Bill of Rights Into the Fourteenth Amendment

Chapter 3: Types of Law

Types of Law: Criminal and Civil

Chapter 4: Court Organization and Structure


The Structure and Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts

A Brief Historical Overview

Federal Courts

State Courts

Court Actors

Overview of the Criminal Process

Section II: Courtroom Actors and the Courtroom Work Group
Chapter 5: Prosecutors

Historical Evolution of the American Prosecutor

The Federal Prosecutor

State Prosecutors

The Prosecutor’s Duties

To Prosecute or Not, That Is the Question

Assistant Prosecutors at Work

The Expansion of the Prosecutor’s Discretionary Power

Prosecutorial Ethics and Misconduct

Community Prosecution

Chapter 6: Defense Attorneys

Defense Attorney’s Role in the Criminal Justice System

Historical Development of the Right to Counsel

Indigent Defense Systems

Caseload Limits and Compliance

Private Versus Appointed Counsel: Which Is Better?

Effective Assistance of Counsel

A Plea Bargain and Inadequate Counsel

Measuring Competency for Self-Representation

Ethics and Lawyer–Client Relationships

Realities of Being a Defense Attorney

Chapter 7: Judges

Roles and Duties of Judges

Judicial Selection

Judicial Socialization and Development

Judicial Accountability and Judicial Independence

Judicial Performance Evaluations

Accountability for Judicial Misconduct

Chapter 8: Criminal Defendants and Crime Victims

Criminal Defendants

Victims and the Criminal Courts

Chapter 9: The Jury

History of Jury Trials

The Role of the Jury

Limits on the Right to Trial by Jury

Jury Size and Unanimity Requirements

The Selection of Jurors

Reforms to the Jury System

Jury Nullification

Section III: Court Processes
Chapter 10: Pretrial Procedures



The Charging Decision



Initial Appearance



Pretrial Motions

Plea Bargaining

Chapter 11: The Criminal Trial

Opening Statements

The Presentation of Evidence

Calling Witnesses

Evidence and Rules of Evidence

Closing Arguments

Instructing the Jury

Jury Deliberations and Verdict

Wrongful Conviction and Exoneration of the Innocent

Randall Kennedy’s Critique

Chapter 12: Sentencing

The Goals of Sentencing

The Judge’s Options at Sentencing

How Do Judges Decide? Modeling the Sentencing Process

Chapter 13: The Appellate Process

Appealing to a Higher Court

The Appellate Courts

The “Right” to Appeal

The Writ of Habeas Corpus

How Do Appellate Courts Decide?

Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court

Chapter 14: Specialized Courts

California Voters Approve Proposition 47

Problem-Solving Courts

Drug Treatment Courts

Domestic Violence Courts

Other Problem-Solving Courts

Juvenile Courts

References and Suggested Reading
Case Index
General Index


Instructor Resource Site
Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides.

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Clear and evidence based. Written by experts in the field.

Brandy Rocheleau
Criminal Just Criminology Dept, Ball State University
December 13, 2022