American Criminal Courts: Legal Process and Social Context provides a complete picture of both the theory and day-to-day reality of criminal courts in the United States. The book begins by exploring how democratic processes affect criminal law, the documents that define law, the organizational structure of courts at the federal and state levels, the overlapping authority of the appeals process, and the effect of legal processes such as precedent, jurisdiction, and the underlying philosophies of various types of courts.
In practice, criminal courts are staffed by people who represent different perspectives, occupational pressures, and organizational goals. Thus, this book includes chapters on actors in the traditional courtroom workgroup (judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, etc.) as well as those outside the court who seek to influence it, including advocacy groups, the media, and politicians.
It is the interplay between the court's legal processes and the social actors in the courtroom that makes the application of criminal law fascinating. By focusing on the tension between the law and the actors inside of it, American Criminal Courts: Legal Process and Social Context demonstrates how the courts are a product of "law in action" and presents content in a way that enables you to understand not only the "how" of the U.S. criminal court system, but also the "why."