Criminal Court Systems – cja373 (3 credits)

This course is an overview of American court history, including the development of state and federal courts. Court administration, the roles of professional and non-professional courtroom participants, and stages in the process are discussed.

This undergraduate-level course is 5 weeks. This course is available as part of a degree or certificate program. To enroll, speak with an Enrollment Representative.

Appellate Courts

  • Understand appellate court procedures.
  • Compare and contrast appeals and post conviction reviews.
  • Discuss the expansion and contraction of post-conviction remedies and procedures.

Pre-trial Proceedings

  • Discuss theories of case attrition.
  • Discuss bail reform.
  • Understand the process of bail setting.
  • Discuss the effect of arrests on the court process.
  • Understand the initial appearance and charging process.
  • Understand the arraignment.
  • Understand the rules regarding disclosure of evidence.
  • Discuss the procedures contesting confessions, searches and seizures.
  • Compare and contrast the preliminary hearing and grand jury procedures.


  • Discuss the procedures contesting confessions, searches, and seizures.
  • Discuss the constitutional right to trial by jury.
  • Understand plea bargaining procedures.
  • Understand jury selection procedures.
  • Identify and understand trial procedures.
  • Understand sentencing procedures.
  • Discuss the abolition of plea bargaining.
  • Understand theory underlying sentencing choices.

Juvenile Courts

  • Understand Juvenile Court Procedure.
  • Compare and contrast juvenile and adult courts.
  • Understand Juvenile Court jurisdiction.
  • Identify Juvenile Courtroom Work Group.

Lower Courts

  • Identify scope and role of lower courts.
  • Discuss problems of lower courts.

The Legal System

  • Identify the rights of the accused.
  • Differentiate between civil and criminal law.
  • Discuss caseloads of federal courts.
  • Discuss caseloads of state courts.
  • Compare and contrast federal and state courts and their organizational structure.
  • Understand the basis for the law.

Defendants, Victims and Witnesses

  • Understand the characteristics of victims.
  • Discuss the Victims' Rights Movement and programs to assist victims and witnesses.
  • Understand the characteristics of defendants.
  • Understand the court process through the eyes of victims and witnesses.

Legal Professionals

  • Discuss the benefits and frustrations of the position of the judge.
  • Discuss the work-related functions of the judge.
  • Discuss the inner workings of the courthouse and identify the people who work there.
  • Understand the right to counsel and the obligations of defense counsel.
  • Discuss the work-related functions of the defense attorney.
  • Discuss the problem of "delay" and its effects on the functions of the court.
  • Define the role of the prosecutor.
  • Compare and contrast state and federal prosecutions.
  • Discuss the work-related functions of the prosecutor.
  • Understand the role of the defense attorney.
  • Understand the rules and procedures available for criticism of judicial performance.

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