PLS / CJ 379 Judicial Process

Fall 2018 - Tue / Thurs. 1:00 - 2:20 p.m.  /  Harned Hall Room TBD

Course Description: Role of the American court system. Roots of Anglo-American jurisprudence; political aspects of legal institutions; structure of American court system.
Course Requirements & Resources:

Prerequisites: CJ 101 or PLS 150
Required Books (4) -
The Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Judicial Politics by Christopher P. Banks and David M. O'Brien [ISBN-13: 978-1483317014] ISBN-10: 1483317013

American Courts Explained: A Detailed Introduction to the Legal Process Using Real Cases by Gregory Mitchell and David Klein [ISBN-13-9781634598798

Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis [ISBN-13: 978-0679739395; ISBN-10: 0679739394]

Gideon's Trumpet: How One Man, a Poor Prisoner, Took His Case to the Supreme Court-and Changed the Law of the United States by Anthony Lewis [ISBN-13: 978-0679723127; ISBN-10: 0679723129]

Optional: LibGuide for Criminal Justice
Optional: Newman's Subject Matter Index
Course Objectives:

1. Explain the nature and sources of law
2. Compare the major global legal systems
3. Evaluate the role of courts in contemporary society, including ADR and therapeutic courts.
4. Summarize and distinguish classical and contemporary theories of jurisprudence
5. Describe the organization and jurisdiction of state and federal court systems
6. Differentiate standing, mootness, ripeness and political questions.
7. Critique judicial selection and removal protocol, including for SCOTUS.
8. Appraise the pros and cons of law school and the legal profession.
9. Assess and justify the right to counsel.
10. Discuss and critique the use and abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
11. Explain how judges interpret statutes and the U.S. Constitution.
12. Differentiate and illustrate “judicial activism” and “judicial restraint”.
13. Analyze the life cycle and impact of these civil cases: Promotion in Motion v. Beech-Nut and NYTimes v. Sullivan.
14. Analyze the life cycle and impact of these criminal cases: Kentucky v. Woodall and Gideon v. Wainwright.


5 Exams @ 100/each


Discussion Forum Posts (1 each week @ 10 points each)

Active attendance and participation


Total Points:


General reference materials: To be used throughout the course.
Research Guides, Databases and Search Engines*:
To be used to find primary authority (constitutions, statutes, regulations and caselaw) and some secondary authority (interpretations of primary authority)
Class policy: 

Statement to Students concerning Academic Dishonesty:

Acts of academic dishonesty, plagiarism and cheating are considered unethical actions and a violation of university’s academic policy (SMU Catalog). Sanctions and procedures are included in the SMU Academic Catalog.

Statement to Students with Disabilities:

Students wishing to request appropriate accommodations are responsible for initiating contact with the SMU Office of Disability Support Services located at 214 OM [phone 438-4580;]. The office will access the individual needs of each student, assist him or her in communicating those needs to faculty and staff and help the student obtain the materials, services, and the assistance necessary to successfully pursue their higher education.

University Mission and Academic Values 
University Mission: To know, to care, to serve – to educate
University Academic Values: Knowledge, Spirituality, Hospitality, Service, Creativity, Communication, Inquiry, Discovery, Holistic Education.

Syllabus will be
on Moodle - log in here