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Criminal Courts

Criminal Courts
A Contemporary Perspective

Fourth Edition
Additional resources:

February 2019 | 456 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Written by three nationally recognized experts in the field, Criminal Courts: A Contemporary Perspective explores all the fundamental topics (court structure, courtroom actors, and the trial and appeals process) as well as other ground-breaking topics, such as specialty courts and comparative court systems. This bestseller provides students with a foundation for understanding key concepts by reviewing the judicial function, the role and purpose of law, sources of law, the various types of law, and the American court system’s structure and operations. Students build on this foundation by learning about participants in the system and the pretrial, trial, and post-trial processes. 

Packed with contemporary examples and new pedagogical tools, the Fourth Edition has been thoroughly revised with the most up-to-date content and resources to give students a more comprehensive understanding of the criminal courts system.

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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 Workgroup
CHAPTER 5: Prosecutors
Historical Evolution of the American Prosecutor  
The Federal Prosecutor  
State Prosecutors  
The Prosecutor’s Duties  
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  
Private Versus Appointed Counsel: Which Is Better?  
Effective Assistance of Counsel  
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  
Jury Selection  
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  
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?  
CHAPTER 14: Specialized Courts
Problem-Solving Courts  
Drug Treatment Courts  
Domestic Violence Courts  
Other Problem-Solving Courts  
Juvenile Courts  
References and Suggested Reading
Case Index
General Index


Student Study Site

SAGE edge for students enhances learning, is easy to use, and offers:

  • an open-access site that makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime;
  • eFlashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts;
  • eQuizzes that allow students to practice and assess how much they’ve learned and where they need to focus their attention;
  • carefully selected video and multimedia links that enhance classroom-based exploration of key topics; and
  • exclusive access to influential SAGE journal and reference content that ties important research and scholarship to chapter concepts to strengthen learning.
Instructor Resource Site

SAGE edge for instructors supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students with:

  • a password-protected site for complete and protected access to all text-specific instructor resources; 
  • test banks that provide a diverse range of ready-to-use options that save you time. You can also easily edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions;
  • editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course;
  • exclusive access to influential full-text SAGE journal articles, which have been carefully selected to tie important research and scholarship to chapter concepts;
  • lecture notes that summarize key concepts by chapter to help you prepare for lectures and class discussions; and
  • a course cartridge for easy LMS integration.

“Straightforward, easy for students to understand, and spotlights all the critical stages in the criminal justice process timeline.”

Barbara B. Koehler
Metropolitan State University of Denver

“This is a great lower-level text for a court process class that offers a well-rounded introduction to the court process, structure, and relevant issues today. It is also priced well compared to other notable texts in the market.”

Danielle M. Romain
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

“Very informative text written by well-respected names. Covers all of the expected content in a criminal courts text in a way that engages students.”

Elizabeth B. Perkins
Morehead State University

A very well done book on criminal courts—one that rivals the other texts that may be commonly used. I like many of the features: it is easy to follow, has great interface, and is up-to-date, including a lot of newer information.”

Ross Allen
Rutgers University-Camden

[Criminal Courts] does a better job of covering the subject matter of an introductory course on law and torts. It does not overwhelm students with lists of cases. It provides specific information in each chapter in the form of boxes that present additional information in a concise and direct manner. Topics include comparative courts, examination of current controversies, movies and courts, and a view of the court system from participants.”

Raymond L. Hasselman
Northeastern State University

Sample Materials & Chapters

CHAPTER 5: Prosecutors

CHAPTER 14: Specialized Courts

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For instructors

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