I like the book quite a bit. It's thorough without being repetitive, and it covers a wide range of issues. I think the book is well balanced as is and the feedback from my students is that the book is very helpful.
I like the organization of the chapters. They lend themselves especially well to the manner in which I teach my course. The book addresses all of the main topics I am looking for in a textbook. I have used this book for almost a decade and have always found it engaging and accessible to students.
Judicial Process in America receives good comments in our course evaluation system. I like it because of the sound scholarship, good organization, and clear, straightforward writing.
Judicial Process in America is a solid textbook, covering all that needs to be covered in a judicial process course, and then some. It is written at a level that undergrads can understand without speaking down to them or dummying down the material. One of the features I like is that it is clear the authors keep up with the political science literature on judicial politics.
The text's strengths are its straightforward approach and delivery of the information. It is well-written and understandable, yet still challenging enough to maintain high standards of educational quality. It does not include the distractions or unnecessary information found in other courts-related texts. Students comment that book is very informative.
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 (booknews.com)
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
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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
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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.
I am very fond of this text. I have used the various editions for over a decade. It is straightforward and full of good information. The chapters are thorough and present a realistic view of the courts without sensationalizing rare, anomalous events that distract from the true nature of American courts.”
The students love the text—it is affordable yet covers the material in a logical and understandable way. I love the text too—I have used every edition since the Fifth Edition. Of all the texts I choose year in and year out, this text is a go-to choice for me. It is well positioned to teach the concepts essential to the judicial process and philosophy course.”
I use Judicial Process in America because it keeps up not only with real world events in judicial politics and process but also with the scholarly literature on the subject, which is critical. It is accessible to undergraduate students without talking down to them.”
Carp, et. al. have written an introductory text that includes the most recent literature on the judicial politics but do so in a manner that is accessible to students of various backgrounds and knowledge. It is the best textbook for an introductory judicial politics course so that students can learn how the courts at all levels do their work and impact politics and public policy.
The text provides a comprehensive introduction to—and survey of—the study of courts, judges, and the American legal process. Written by several widely respected scholars in the field, the text provides extensive coverage of how courts and judges operate and how they relate to the broader society of which they are a part. Accessible even to those students who are new to the study of courts and law while also providing a nuanced and sophisticated view of the state of research in the field, the text is regarded as a leader in the field and as a useful addition to the library of the novice and the expert alike.
I have been assigning this text for more than 10 years. It is an outstanding textbook to introduce students to the judicial process.
Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan
This text provides a terrific overview of the legal system – which is my main reason for using it. I also like the Suggested Resources…
I would describe it as a very straightforward approach to providing thorough descriptions to many of the main and important topics of the U.S. legal system. It goes into great depth for important topics and it also covers a wide variety of topics. It’s physical size is also nice in that it is not a humongous sized textbook, rather it is easy to use and navigate because the layout of the chapters are easy to understand and nicely divided…
I like the book. I like the length and the writing style. It focuses on important information and provides a good source of information on basic structure and procedure. The book is readable, the chapters fairly short and students tell me they like the book and find it a helpful companion to lectures…
I have been using this text for 20 years. I most like, and use, the chapters that examine state and federal courts, judges, the groups in the judicial process, and the procedures and prior to, during, and after a trial. These chapters are clearly written and lay out the facts in a well-organized, accessible manner…
I would say that it is a thoughtful and comprehensive introduction to the judicial institutions, norms, and practices of the United States, with enough detail to carry an undergraduate course or to set up expanded discussions of selected topics.
I would describe this book as a political perspective on the American court system. It encourages readers to think about courts as government organizations and approach their study as one would other political institutions.
Carp, et al provide a fairly comprehensive introduction to the study of the judicial branch and politics, with both a theoretical and evidence based approach which students can relate to. The material covers the majority of what I cover in my course and needs the supplementation of perhaps one additional text.
I have been assigning this text for more than 10 years. It is an outstanding textbook to introduce students to the judicial process.
Judithanne Scourfield Mc Lauchlan