American Criminal Courts - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9781455725991, 9781455728114

American Criminal Courts

1st Edition

Legal Process and Social Context

Authors: Casey Welch John Fuller
eBook ISBN: 9781455728114
Imprint: Anderson
Published Date: 19th February 2013
Page Count: 614


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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."

Key Features

  • Clearly explains both the principles underlying the development of criminal law and the practical reality of the court system in action
  • A complete picture of the criminal justice continuum, including prosecution, defense, judges, juries, sentencing, and pre-trial and appeals processes
  • Feature boxes look at how courts are portrayed in the media; identify landmark due-process cases; illustrate the pros and cons of the courts’ discretionary decision-making; examine procedures and the goals of justice; and highlight the various types of careers available within the criminal courts


This book can be used in brick-and-mortar and online courses, and across disciplines, including criminal justice and criminology, pre-law, sociology, and political science. This includes 2-year and 4-year traditional schools and career schools, as well as graduate schools, and courses such as Criminal Court Process and System, Courts and Sentencing, and Introduction to Courts.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Principles and Decision Making in U.S. Criminal Courts

Part 1: Formal Social Control

Chapter 2: Social Control, Comparative Courts, and the Development of the U.S. Judicial System
Chapter 3: The Structure of Federal and State Courts
Chapter 4: Criminal Law, Crime, and the Criminal Court Process

Part 2: Negotiating Discretion, Making Decisions

Chapter 5: The Reality of Legal Action: Principles, Organizations, and Public Pressure
Chapter 6: Case Assessment, Case Attrition, and Decision to Charge

Part 3: Decision Making in the Pretrial and Trial Process

Chapter 7: The Pre-Trial Process
Chapter 8: The Prosecutor and the Exertion of State Power
Chapter 9: The Defense and Constraint on State Power
Chapter 10: The Criminal Trial Process: Judges, Bench Trials, Jury Deliberation, and Sentencing

Part 4: Specialized Courts

Chapter 11: The Right to Appeal and the Appellate Process
Chapter 12: Juvenile Courts
Chapter 13: Specialized Courts

Part 5: Frontiers of Justice

Chapter 14: Fuzzy Justice: Alternatives to Court
Chapter 15: Courts in the Future


No. of pages:
© Anderson 2014
19th February 2013
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Casey Welch

Casey Welch

Casey Welch is an Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Flagler College. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his B.A. in Criminology and Law with a minor in Philosophy from the University of Florida. His research areas include social control, legal decision-making, homelessness, media, and pedagogy. He also works as a consultant with criminal court attorneys.

Affiliations and Expertise

Flagler College

John Fuller

John Fuller

John Randolph Fuller brings both an academic and an applied background to his scholarship in criminology. Fuller received his Bachelor of University Studies degree from the University of New Mexico and his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the School of Criminology at Florida State University. Fuller has taught at the University of West Georgia since 1981 and has been recognized by students as a superior teacher and advisor. In 1991 he was named the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Member of the Year, and in 2001 he was given Professor of the Year Award by the Honors College.

In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, Fuller has published six books on topics ranging from juvenile delinquency to peacemaking criminology. He is a frequent presenter at meetings of both the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Additionally, he serves as the Faculty Ombuds at the University of West Georgia, where he endeavors to resolve conflicts for faculty, students, and administrators.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of West Georgia


"Writing for undergraduate students in criminology, political science, sociology, or pre-law with no prior experience with the subject, Welch and Fuller introduce the structure and operations of the US criminal court system."--Reference & Research Book News, October 2013