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Judicial Process in America, 9th Edition / Edition 9

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Designed for judicial process and behavior courses, this text by Robert A. Carp and Ronald Stidham is a comprehensive study of the American court system. It provides an insightful look at the complex environment in which judges, lawyers, litigants, and other actors function in our federal, state, civil, and criminal court systems. The thoroughly updated fourth edition includes a new section on juvenile courts and new material on tort and product liability reform. It also updates or expands its coverage of state court policy making, legal representation for the poor, the contingency fee, venue and jurisdiction, salaries for various types of lawyers, and alternate dispute resolution.

Observations from a wide range of professional court-watchers provide an insightful look at the environment in which judges and lawyers function.

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Editorial Reviews

Intended for judicial process and behavior courses, this text provides a detailed study of the American court system, including the functions of judges, lawyers, litigants, and other actors in the federal, state, civil, and criminal court systems. Includes a new section on juvenile courts, torts, and product liability reform, as well as generally updated material. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
A comprehensive study of the American judiciary and the complex environment in which it functions, revised and updated to include information on the impact and make-up of the Rehnquist Court and the voting patterns of President Bush's court appointees. Designed as a primary text for courses in judicial process and behavior. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Mark Silverstein
THE JUDICIAL PROCESS IN AMERICA (2 ed) by Robert A. Carp and Ronald Stidham is a solid entry in a growing array of books intended as the principal text for undergraduate courses in judicial process and behavior. Stressing the impact of the courts on the policy making process, the authors provide a comprehensive and thorough introduction to the American judiciary. Indeed this is an exhaustive text and any instructor is certain to find substantial portions of the book eminently usable regardless of his or her particular theoretical perspective. The student-reader, however, might beg to differ. This text covers (almost) every aspect of the judicial system in depth and the sheer weight of detail (coupled with the authors' penchant for "typing" and subdividing) works on occasion to obscure the larger themes. I suspect that even the more resolute of undergraduates might, at times, become discouraged with this text. Nevertheless, despite this and a few other reservations, my general assessment is that this volume merits careful consideration, particularly if one is looking for a text with a primary focus on the federal courts and a feel for the impact of courts on public policy. Chapter one, "Foundations of Law in the United States," is a short and somewhat cursory look at the sources and types of law in the United States. The strengths (and, alas, the weaknesses) of this volume soon become apparent in chapter 2, entitled "History, Function, and Organization of the Federal and State Judicial Systems." On one level, this is a remarkably rich and wide-ranging introduction to the court systems. From another standpoint (perhaps that of the neophyte student of the judiciary) this chapter might be seen as so dense and crammed with material as to be beyond reasonable comprehension. For example, the student in the space of approximately 10 pages must digest a discussion of the early history of the U. S. Circuit Courts, a description of the appellate function (in which the authors dedicate a paragraph to each of the following "types" of appeals: ritualistic, frivolous, bureaucratic, consensual and nonconsensual) and then a brief examination of the courts of appeals at work. A similar analysis is applied to the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal district courts as well as to the state court systems. It is, to say the least, a very thorough summary; indeed perhaps so much so that the typical undergraduate might become so snarled in detail that some of the basic themes -- e.g. the differences between trial and appellate courts, the distinction between the state and federal system -- might well be lost. Chapter 3 deals with the administrative and support staff and, while I would skip this chapter in my judicial process class, others that find such material appropriate for undergraduate study will find this chapter thorough and informative. Chapter 4 combines a discussion on lawyers, litigants and interest groups. This is one of the few instances where the authors appear to short-change the topic. Personally I would prefer a separate, more complete chapter on lawyers simply because the would-be attorneys that make up the majority of my Page 66 follows: students find discussions of law school and the actual practice of law endlessly fascinating. Moreover the material on interest groups seems out of place and might be better located at the end of the book where the authors focus on the courts and public policy. Chapter 5, entitled "Jurisdiction, Work Load and Policy-Making Boundaries of Federal and State Courts," provides a review of the jurisdiction of the various Art. III courts as well as a general discussion of the work load of the state courts. The chapter also includes an interesting section on judicial restraint, discussing some of the rules of justiciability and comity that limit the power of the federal courts to influence public policy. Chapters 6 and 7 detail the criminal and civil processes. Once again, the authors opt for more rather than less with inconsistent results. One might reasonably question, for example, whether it is carrying the public policy orientation of the text a bit far for the authors to list and to describe five "types" of crime -- conventional, economic, consensual, organized and political -- sorted according to their public policy implications. When the authors do illustrate the actual criminal or civil process, however, the text shines. Here the material is presented in a tightly organized fashion with just the right mix of details and examples. The same can also be said for the next chapter on federal and state judges. The expected material on judicial selection and socialization is all here but the authors also include a section that attempts to illustrate the policy implications of appointments to the federal courts as well as the linkage between who is in the White House and who is selected to serve on the federal bench. The final four chapters highlight the policy orientation of the text. A rather lengthy chapter on the "Decision-Making Process" includes an informative section on how judges accommodate extra-legal factors into the decision-making process or, in the words of the authors, how judges "have learned to bend when the democratic winds have blown." (283) A chapter on the special case of collegial courts follows, documenting the various models developed by social scientists for studying appellate courts. The text concludes with a chapter on the implementation of judicial decisions and a short concluding chapter that refocuses attention on policy making by American judges. My criticisms of this volume run in contradictory directions. On the one hand, I believe readability (particularly for undergraduates) has in several instances been sacrificed to an almost encyclopedic approach to the material; the volume could be cut in length by probably 20% without any significant impact on its value as a comprehensive teaching tool. On the other hand I find a judicial process text that dedicates nary a paragraph to a direct discussion of the adversary process to be sadly lacking. The adversarial approach is a fundamental tenet of the American judicial process and the failure to discuss its nature and values (as well as modern calls for its reform) detracts, I believe, from the overall merit of this text. Secondly -- and this criticism is perhaps directly related to the absence of any extended discussion of the central precepts of the adversary process -- the book suffers from a complete lack of comparative analysis. One could read this Page 67 follows: text -- as I suspect some students will -- firm in the belief that every legitimate judicial system must share the same attributes as the American system. The absence of any alternative perspectives on, say, the role of lawyers or the function of the judge is a serious omission. These criticisms notwithstanding I repeat my initial conclusion: this book merits serious consideration for use in any course studying the judicial system. The introductory text is not aimed at a market that seeks daring innovation and creativity and Professors Carp and Stidham can hardly be faulted for failing to stretch the genre. I am confident that anyone teaching in the field will feel quite at home using this text.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452226323
  • Publisher: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 163,592
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Tables and figures
1 Foundations of law in the United States 1
2 History and organization of the Federal Judicial system 23
3 History and organization of State Judicial systems 57
4 Jurisdiction and policy-making boundaries 73
5 State judges 98
6 Federal judges 111
7 Policy links between the citizenry, the president, and the federal judiciary 151
8 Lawyers, litigants, and interest groups in the judicial process 171
9 Crime and procedures prior to a criminal trial 198
10 The criminal trial and its aftermath 229
11 The civil court process 256
12 Decision making by trial court judges 281
13 Decision making in collegial courts 325
14 Implementation and impact of judicial policies 362
15 Policymaking by American judges : a synthesis 389
Glossary 402
Annotated Constitution of the United States 409
Subject index 446
Case index 461
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