ADJ 262 - U.S. Courts: Contemporary Issues and Problems

Course Description

This course provides students, particularly students of criminal justice, an overview of the legal basis, structure, organization, policies and jurisdiction of the U.S. courts. The course examines the dynamics of the U.S. courthouse, the interaction of the key participants and the quality of justice dispensed there. Finally, contemporary issues and problems such as judicial discretion, sentencing, political influence, plea negotiation, and the usurpation of the lawmaking process and power by the courts through judicial review are presented from both a philosophical and applied perspective. Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to: Identify the pivotal role of the courts in justice administration. Provide an overview of the legal bases of the criminal courts, criminal procedure and criminal law. Identify and evaluate the actors who, on a daily basis, must make the critical decisions through ministerial duties and discretionary powers to further social ordering in the U.S. courts. List the most common functions of U.S. judges. Follow the stages through which a criminal case must pass from arrest to the verdict and explain how and why cases leave the process. Identify the competing theories of sentencing and discuss the legal basis for the wide range of discretionary power over sentencing by the judge.

Credit Hours: 3
Lecture Hours: 3


Course Prerequisites: ADJ 241