American Courts: Process and Policy, 7th Edition

  • Lawrence Baum The Ohio State University
  • ISBN-10: 0495916374  |  ISBN-13: 9780495916376
  • 368 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2008, 2002, 1998
  • © 2013 | Published
  • List Price = $ 152.95
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The highly respected AMERICAN COURTS: PROCESS AND POLICY, by top Courts scholar Lawrence Baum, provides clear descriptions of the courts and the activities of the various courts. The Seventh Edition explains what courts do, how people within them behave, and how they relate to the rest of the political system.

Features and Benefits

  • Clear, engaging prose fosters student interest.
  • Exhibits (tables and charts) illustrate and clarify main points in the text.

Table of Contents

1. An Overview of the Courts.
2. Court Organization.
3. Lawyers.
4. The Selection of Judges.
5. Judges.
6. Trial Courts: Criminal Cases.
7. Trial Courts: Civil Cases.
8. Appellate Courts: The Process.
9. Appellate Courts: Policy and Impact.

What's New

  • The text has been updated throughout to reflect current developments in the courts. Close attention is paid to President Obama's administration and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
  • Using these most recent examples, the Seventh Edition delves deeper than before into the selection process involved in becoming a lawyer and eventually being appointed as a federal judge, while, at the same time, juxtaposing the federal courts to the lower courts. New exhibits, found in each chapter, have been included to highlight this analysis, providing students with a better understanding of the policy involved in the courts process.
  • Recent conflicts between the courts and their critics are analyzed in greater depth within this edition, as these conflicts have put added pressure on judges when handing down decisions. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and recent immigration legislation in states such as Arizona are recent examples explored throughout the discussion of public opinion and criticism in relation to federal investigations and criminal charges.
  • The Seventh Edition probes the effects of growing partisan polarization on the selection of judges and the functioning of courts. The election year of 2010 is discussed at length, as the mobilization of conservative political forces has had a drastic impact on the organization of courts nationwide. With substantial gains for Republicans, social conservatives have sought to defeat incumbent judges, requiring students to take a closer look at the organization of courts and the regulations involved in electing and selecting judges.
  • The implication of changes in the legal profession for lawyers and aspiring lawyers are discussed at length in this edition due to ever-changing national requirements. The most up-to-date information is included for law school demands, employment opportunities, and career paths, taking into account the most recent American Bar Foundation census of lawyers and data provided by the American Bar Association. All exhibits containing statistical information have been revised to reflect changes through the year 2010.

Efficacy and Outcomes


"Getting undergraduate students to do the readings is always a significant challenge for any professor. American Courts does not talk down to students, but does allow them to understand state and federal courts and the American judicial system. I thought American Courts would be a book that my students would read and understand and would offer them the best opportunity to learn about law and the judicial process."

— Robert M. Howard, Georgia State University

"Baum always incorporates the most recent political science research into the book and does so in a way that is understandable to undergraduates. He also is aware of the current political climate and issues related to courts (both at the federal and state level) and does an excellent job discussing them and tying them to the text."

— Chris W. Bonneau, University of Pittsburgh

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Lawrence Baum

Lawrence Baum is Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University. Among his books are THE SUPREME COURT, 10th edition (CQ Press 2010), SPECIALIZING THE COURTS (University of Chicago Press 2011), and JUDGES AND THEIR AUDIENCES (Princeton University Press 2006). The subjects of his research include judicial decision making and the selection and careers of judges.