Criminal Justice 233

CRJU 233: Courts and the Criminal Process.

Credit Hours: (3)

An examination of the steps in the process followed in most criminal courts and the legal rules relating to each step. The manner in which judges are selected in the American legal system and the organization of state and federal courts will also be examined.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course will consist of two basic components:

1. the organization and structure of courts in the American legal system
2. the stages in the criminal process and the basic rights that attach to each stage.

In the court organization and structure component, students will learn about the organization of the federal court system (which will be compared with the variety of approaches utilized by state court systems) and the movement to unify court systems in this country. Particular attention will be given to the role of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This organizational stucture will be compared with the structure of courts in the European inquisitorial systems. Coverage will also extend to methods of selecting judges, tenure of judges, judicial functions, and backgrounds of judges.

In the criminal process component, the various steps in the criminal process through which a typical felony case proceeds will be explored, beginning with arrest and extending through the appeals process. The Bill of Rights contains numerous provisions extending protections to those accused of crimes. The leading cases from the U.S. Supreme Court interpreting those provisions will be covered as each stage is discussed.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A combination of lecture, class discussion, and videotapes will be utilized. In the court organization and structure component, some role playing will be utilized to help students explore the proper role of the U.S. Senate in confirming presidential nominees to the federal bench and understand the role of judges in interpreting statutes and the Constitution. In the criminal process component, students will be presented with fact situations to which they must apply the rules established by Supreme Court decisions concerning the rights of criminal defendants under the Bill of Rights.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The student will be able to:

a) explain the basic differences in the structure of the federal and state court systems and the significance of those differences
b) explain the various methods used in this country to select judges and the ramifications of each method for the courts
c) understand the basic rights of those accused of crimes
d) apply the rules defining the basic rights of the accused to fact situations raising questions about the extent of and limitations on those rights.


Assessment Measures

Students will be examined on material covered through objective and essay tests. They will also be assigned weekly journal entries designed to provide feedback about student’s understanding of critical concepts and issues explored in class and to challenge students to consider the implications of those concepts and issues.


Other Course Information




September 2001, Reviewed by Dr. Isaac Van Patten, Department Chair