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The Courts in Our Criminal Justice System presents a unique historical context on the development, functions, and controversies in the courts system that is lacking in other courts books, while simultaneously presenting the most current theory, research, and examples on the topic. This broad, temporally inclusive approach to the study of the courts will help provide the “big picture” framework necessary for readers to understand the modern American criminal courts process. A Society Designs Laws; A Crime is Committed; After Arrest: Law, the Court, and Post-Arrest Procedures; The Courts Get Involved (The History of Courts and the Arrangement of Modern Courts; A Prosecutor Considers the Charges; A Defense Lawyer is Selected: The Defense Role; A Judge is Assigned to Hear the Case; Jurors and Other Key Participants in the Courtroom Play Their Roles; Some Cases Don't Make It to Court; “You Ring, We Spring” : The Role of Bail in the Court System; Plea Bargaining; Your Day in Court: The Trial Begins; The Punishment Dilemma; $30 or 30 Days: Setting the Penalty; Appeals; Juvenile Courts.
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This book presents a multidisciplinary and contextualized discussion of the nature and functions of courts in America. It helps readers understand the legal, political, and social/cultural environment within which courts operate, leading them to appreciate how the court system both reflects and shapes changes in society.Features:
The Courts in Our Criminal Justice System looks at the role of American criminal courts in the broader context of the American legal system. We designed this text and the Instructor's Manual with the goal of helping students understand and appreciate the complexities of the court system; for example, by comparing the functioning of the court system in theory and in practice. We have also provided students with a rich picture of the history of the American court system in order to show how the roles and functions of our courts have developed in response to societal changes. We believe this historical perspective, in conjunction with the text's focus on how our courts grapple with current legal and societal issues, will help students understand the broader context of the American court system.
Throughout the text, we consistently provide examples designed to help students appreciate the relevance and impact of the courts on the daily lives of people living in the United States; whether they are ordinary people who have little contact with the courts but whose lives are influenced by court decisions on civil liberties questions; or people who have direct contact with the court system, such as defendants, victims, jurors, or witnesses; or people who work within the legal system itself.
One of our purposes in writing this text was to combine our individual strengths to paint an accurate and engaging portrait of American courts and processes over time and in the modern era. Throughout the text are boxes, designed to provide you with additional material and to bring the subject of courts alive. We hope you complete this text and course with both interest in and passion for our legal system. As you read and learn more about our justice system, think about the importance the courts—and the individual criminal justice agencies with which they interact—have for you as a private citizen. Even if you do not have direct contact with the courts, they are important for you to understand.
While we were in the process of writing this book, the events of September 11, 2001, occurred. These events and the domestic and worldwide reactions to them have made it even clearer how the rule of law, embodied by the activities of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of our government, reflects and shapes current political, social, and cultural concerns. As a democratic society founded on the premise of respect for freedom, individuality, and a commitment to the rule of law, America faces the challenge of responding in a way that exemplifies such ideals. As we work on this task, it will undoubtedly highlight the critical—and often underappreciated—role that our court system plays in not simply legal change, but societal change as well.
We kindly solicit your input concerning any facet of this text. Feel free to contact either of us if you have ideas for improving it.
Jon'a F. Meyer, Ph.D
Diana R. Grant, Ph.D
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