CJ 221E Introduction to Criminal Courts


College of Liberal Arts | Department of Criminal Justice
Spring, 2009

Course Description

This course addresses the evolution of current functioning of the American criminal court system. Students are exposed to court administration, court procedures, and the state and federal court system.

Credit Hours:  3

Prerequisites:   None

Goals: At the completion of the course, students will be able to:

         Provide an understanding of the adversary system and the state and federal court systems.

         Provide an understanding of the actors in the system including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants, and victims.

         Provide an understanding of the court process from arrest to appeal and post-conviction remedies.

         Provide an understanding of the nature and functions of limited jurisdiction courts, general jurisdiction courts, appellate courts, and specialized courts, such as juvenile and/or family courts.

Instructor Information

Margaret Phipps Brown

Biographical Information:

B.A. Sociology/Social Science, West Virginia Wesleyan College, 1976; J.D. Emory University, 1979.
Member of West Virginia State Bar, 1979 - present.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Cabell County, West Virginia (part-time) 1988 - present.
Criminal Justice faculty member at Marshall 1982 - present.
Research interests include domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, forensic science.


Required Materials


Required Text:

America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System (8th ed.) , (2005), by Neubauer, David W.
ISBN: 0-534-62892-3
The approximate costs for this text are $92.95 new.

Supplemental Text:

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (2001), by American Psychological Association
ISBN: 1-55798-790-4
The approximate costs for this text are $26.95 new and $20.25 used.


Computer Requirements:

Your assignments should be submitted in Microsoft Word. If you prefer to use a different work processor, then you must save the file as a rich text file (.rtf file extension). I will only accept assignments prepared with Microsoft Word or assignments prepared with a word processor of your choice so long as you save the file as an .rtf file. This policy avoids problems with compatibility. .rtf files are also less virus-prone.

Please also note the following links:

For minimum hardware software requirements please see: http://www.marshall.edu/muonline/support/hardwaresoftware.asp

Be sure to run the free web browser tuneup: http://www.marshall.edu/muonline/support/tuneup.asp

If you have technical problems, please go to the Help Desk: http://www.marshall.edu/muonline/support/

Evaluation/Measurement of Learner Objectives


There will be four exams at 100 points each. The exams will be completed through Vista. The exams will be objective and will contain multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions.


Quizzes will be completed after reading the chapter and lecture notes. There will be 19 quizzes on 19 chapters. There are a total of 135 quiz questions at 1 point per question for a grand total of 135 points available for quizzes.


Research paper
Prepare a 5-7 page paper on an issue related to the American court system, specifically focusing on one or more aspects of a criminal trial. Students should submit proposed topics to the instructor by email and receive approval of the topic prior to working on the paper. Each paper should have a minimum of five sources and be completed using the APA Publication Manual.


Student papers should cover a current or past criminal court case. You can obtain potential topics by visiting internet sites such as http://www.courttv.com/ (for a listing of current high profile criminal trials) or http://journalism.medill.northwestern.edu/docket/ (for a listing of cases currently pending before the United States Supreme Court). Once you have selected a case, please complete research on one or more aspects of the case and write a paper that briefly describes the case you have chosen and examining in detail the relevant aspect of your case. For example, you might want to examine the evidence introduced in a high profile case, such as the Scott Peterson case and examine arguments from the prosecution and the defense about why that evidence should or should not be admissible. Another possibility is to identify a criminal case currently pending before the United States Supreme Court, read the briefs and describe the case and the arguments on both sides. Keep in mind that your papers are only 5-7 pages in length, so you will want to restrict your topic to one that can be covered in a relatively short research paper.


Research papers are due at midnight on April 5, 2009.


Grading Criteria: 











Research paper







Grading Scale: 














Assignments submitted after the due date/time will not be graded. Students will receive a zero for any late assignments, unless arrangements are made ahead of time with the instructor.

Students may communicate with the instructor via email (mailto:brownmp@marshall.edu) or by using the mail tool in WebCT. All assignments should be submitted to the instructor using the mail tool in WebCT, unless students are instructed otherwise.


Attendance Policy

There is no formal attendance policy for this online course; however, please keep in mind that you must complete all requirements by the date they are due.


Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism:
In this and any other Marshall University course, all academic assignments are expected to be your own original work. Academic dishonesty is a very serious offense and can result in discipline ranging from a verbal notice/written warning, to loss of credit for the work conducted in association with academic dishonesty to permanent removal from the university. For further information please see:

Course Outline and Schedule

***Please note: Because some students who take this class have had difficulty completing assignments on a weekly basis, I am making quizzes and exams available for approximately four weeks at a time. All students are required to complete all quizzes and exams by the last day they are available. Failure to do so will result in a grade of 0 for any quizzes and/or exams not completed by that date. The availability is as follows:


January 12 February 9: Quizzes 1-4, Exam 1


February 6 March 9: Quizzes 5-9, Exam 2


March 6 April 6: Quizzes 10-14, Exam 3


April 3 May 6: Quizzes 15-19, Exam 4



Reading assignments

Page numbers

Week 1

Chapter 1 Courts, Crime, and Controversy


Week 2

Chapter 2 Law and Crime


Week 3

Chapter 3 Federal Courts



Chapter 4 State Courts


Exam # 1

Week 4

Chapter 5 Dynamics of Courthouse Justice



Chapter 6 -- Prosecutors


Week 5

Chapter 7 Defense Attorneys



Chapter 8 Judges


Week 6

Chapter 9 Defendants and Victims


Exam # 2

Week 7

Chapter 10 Arrest to Arraignment



Chapter 11 Bail


Week 8

Chapter 12 Disclosing and Suppressing Evidence



Chapter 13 Negotiated Justice and the Plea of Guilty


Week 9

Chapter 14 Trials and Juries


Exam # 3

Week 10

Chapter 15 Sentencing Options



Chapter 16 Sentencing Decisions


Week 11

Chapter 17 Appellate Courts



Chapter 18 The Lower Courts


Week 12

Chapter 19 Juvenile Courts


Final Exam



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