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Written by three leaders in the field, this comprehensive and accessible text for undergraduate courses explores all conventional topics (court structure, courtroom actors, and the trial and appeal process) as well as others seldom covered. The text first reviews the judicial function, the role and purpose of law, sources of law, the various types of law, and the American court system structure and operations, both state and federal. The participants in the system are discussed next, followed by the pretrial, trial, and posttrial processes. A wealth of pedagogical tools adds valuable related content, ranging from the points of view of court process participants to comparative information to hotly debated topics.Key Features Thorough coverage of topics typically omitted or treated briefly elsewhere, including judicial decision making, specialized courts, and comparative court systems 'úView From the Field'Ě features topics from the perspective of a participant in the process, from a criminal defense attorney to a U.S. District Court judge 'úControversial Issues'Ě boxes provide balanced views of current issues, encouraging classroom discussion and sparking student interest 'úComparative Courts'Ě inserts provide students with a glimpse of how courts around the world approach a topic discussed in the chapter 'úCurrent Research'Ě boxes present current social science research and show how research can help policymakers and those in the court system evaluate and implement processes and programsAccompanied by Effective Teaching and Learning Ancillaries!A combined site at www.sagepub.com/hemmens includes Password-protected instructor resources, including a test bank, PowerPoint slides, and teaching tips An open-access student study site, including film clips, self-quizzes, e-flashcards, SAGE journal articles, and more