Judges and Courts: A Look at the Judicial Branch

Judges and Courts: A Look at the Judicial Branch

By: Kathiann M. Kowalski
Publisher: Lerner Publishing 
Publication Date: February 2012
ISBN: 978-0761385622
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 20, 2012

If you've ever watched a court case on television and thought the process was easy, you just might want to reconsider your verdict after reading this book. Court cases "don't end in an hour," but can be dramatic and the decisions made can affect our lives. In a court case the person who needs help is called the plaintiff, while the person who is "accused of doing something wrong" is called the defendant. Other people who factor into a case can be lawyers, a jury, witnesses, and a judge or judges. When the U.S. Constitution was written our federal government was divided into three branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch.

The judicial branch is made up of courts that interpret, or "decide what laws mean." Laws, which can be federal, state, or local, are "rules" that we all must follow. They are called statues when they are "written down." There are civil statutes, but there are also common laws. You'll learn the difference between the two in this book and how they work. In the United States we have federal and state court systems. The former deals with laws that govern the entire country, the latter deals with state law. You'll also learn about checks and balances, the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, federal district courts, bankruptcy courts, state court systems, criminal law, amendments to the Constitution, court proceedings, civil law, and you'll learn many other interesting facts about our court system.

Apart and aside from televised, dramatic court proceedings, many young people don't know much about how our judicial system works. This book was very clear, concise and could easily lead to a stepping stone for a school report. A lot of ground was covered, but the material was well written and presented in a manner that will appeal to many students. The book is generously illustrated with photographs with informative captions. For example, when we see the cover photograph of the Supreme Court judges inside the book, the caption identifies them. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent overview of the United States court system and how it functions.

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