• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Seventeen thought-provoking essays in this sophisticated yet accessible reader demonstrate how political scientists conduct research on law, courts, and the judicial process, and at the same time answer interesting, substantive questions. Illustrating the breadth and depth of judicial politics studies, the essays convey to students the array of contemporary thinking -- both theoretical and methodological -- at work in the field. The book's five parts cover subjects taught in most judicial politics courses. Because each chapter stands alone, instructors have the flexibility of assigning less than the whole book or chapters in a different order. Topics examined range from information used by voters electing judges to the credibility of victims of sexualized violence. Accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students, Contemplating Courts offers fascinating views ...

Trial Courts
Trial courts

“I'll take my case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.” How many times has that phrase been uttered by actors on television shows or even by average Americans who find themselves involved in some legal dispute. In reality, though, this is a hollow battle cry. During the 1990s, about 100 million criminal and civil cases were filed annually in our nation's federal and state trial courts (Baum 1994, 44–46); in that same period, the U.S. Supreme Court decided about 120 cases per term with an opinion (Epstein et al. 1994, 73). Given those numbers, the probability that the justices would decide any one of the trial court cases bordered on zero.

In marked contrast to the claims made on television shows, ...

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