American Judicial Process

Myth and Reality in Law and Courts

By Pamela C. Corley, Artemus Ward, Wendy L. Martinek

© 2016 – Routledge

474 pages | 122 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415532983
pub: 2015-10-13
Available for pre-order
US Dollars$74.95

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

This text is a general introduction to American judicial process. The authors cover the major institutions, actors, and processes that comprise the U.S. legal system, viewed from a political science perspective. Grounding their presentation in empirical social science terms, the authors identify popular myths about the structure and processes of American law and courts and then contrast those myths with what really takes place. Three unique elements of this "myth versus reality" framework are incorporated into each of the topical chapters:

1) "Myth versus Reality" boxes that lay out the topics each chapter covers, using the myths about each topic contrasted with the corresponding realities.

2) "Pop Culture" boxes that provide students with popular examples from film, television, and music that tie-in to chapter topics and engage student interest.

3) "How Do We Know?" boxes that discuss the methods of social scientific inquiry and debunk common myths about the judiciary and legal system.

Unlike other textbooks, American Judicial Process emphasizes how pop culture portrays—and often distorts—the judicial process and how social science research is brought to bear to provide an accurate picture of law and courts. In addition, a rich companion website will include PowerPoint lectures, suggested topics for papers and projects, a test bank of objective questions for use by instructors, and downloadable artwork from the book. Students will have access to annotated web links and videos, flash cards of key terms, and a glossary.


"This superb volume successfully blends coverage of the judicial process with social scientific research on the legal system and insights into how legal actors are viewed in popular culture. This is no easy feat and I am confident that both students and professors will find this a most welcome and exciting approach."

—Paul M. Collins, Jr., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"American Judicial Process is a game changer. Instead of relegating empirical evidence to the footnotes, this book challenges students to consider how we know what we know. The political science is front and center, but the masterful integration of examples from popular culture makes this anything but a dull read. Corley, Martinek, and Ward are a dream team for this kind of project. They have struck the perfect balance between wit and wisdom. This book challenges the popular conception of the American system of law and courts with a balanced—but never boring—reality check."

—Rebecca D. Gill, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

"One of my biggest challenges as a teacher is finding a text that can engage students without sacrificing intellectual rigor or content. American Judicial Process threads that needle in a way no existing text does. This is a superb text that fills an important gap on the judicial bookshelf."

—Ryan C. Black, Michigan State University

"Written by three highly-respected law and courts scholars, American Judicial Process combines a rigorous focus on substantive material with a host of features that enhance its relevance to students. It also presents important findings from social science research in a straightforward and accessible way. I have been waiting for a judicial process book like this for a long time."

—Brett Curry, Georgia Southern University

"Corley, Ward, and Martinek provide an in-depth account of the American judicial process that often challenges existing understandings. Exceptionally well-written and grounded in current social science scholarship, the authors effectively use a variety of pedagogical tools. As someone who has taught undergraduates for over twenty years, I am excited about using this text in my judicial process class."

—Susan B. Haire, University of Georgia

Table of Contents

1. Myth and Reality in the Judicial Process 2. Thinking Like a Lawyer: Legal Education and Law School 3. The Legal Profession: Lawyers and the Practice of Law 4. Organization of Courts 5. Choosing Judges 6. Civil Law 7. Criminal Law 8. Trials 9. Appeals 10. The Supreme Court 11. Implementation and Impact

About the Authors

Pamela C. Corley is currently Associate Professor and Director of the Law and Legal Reasoning Minor in the Political Science Department at Southern Methodist University, where she teaches classes on judicial process, civil rights, First Amendment, criminal procedure, and jurisprudence. She received her J.D. and Ph.D. from Georgia State University.

Artemus Ward is currently Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University, where he teaches classes in public law and American politics. He received his Ph.D. from the Maxwell School Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and was formerly a staffer on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Wendy L. Martinek is currently Associate Professor of Political Science at Binghampton University (SUNY), where she teaches classes in constitutional law, judicial politics, and political methodology. She received her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and was formerly a program officer for the Law and Social Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Insurance
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Judicial Branch