Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

POSC 340: Judicial Process

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  Course Description

Study of the state and federal court systems and the impact those systems have on American politics and society. 

Prerequisite: POSC 111

Proctored Exams: Final


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Neubauer and Meinhold. Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States. 7th ed, Cengage, 2016.  eText

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Returns: Students who drop a course with physical course materials will be responsible for returning those items to Ed Map within 30 days of receipt of the order.  More specific information on how to do so will be included in the package received from Ed Map.  See here for Ed Map's return policy. Failure to return physical items from a dropped course will result in a charge to the student account for all unreturned items.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

The structure of the various court systems of the United States have developed over the life of our country.  The founding fathers took what they considered to be the best aspects of European judicial systems and incorporated them into our federal systems.  Due to the structure of our government, we have a federal court system and each state has an individual court system.

This course focuses on courts as legal institutions and as political institutions.  The fundamentals of our judicial system will be analyzed, from the origins of U.S. law, the structures of both the states and federal courts, the steps in civil and criminal cases, judges and lawyers, and ending with the Supreme Court.  Students satisfactorily completing this course will be armed with a deep understanding of the United States judicial system and how the legal interpretations of the courts in their rulings have far reaching legal and political impact. 

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Objectives

  • To understand the structure and functions of the American court system on both the national and state levels.
  • To understand the role of judges, lawyers and litigants.
  • To understand trial and appellate processes.
  • To understand the types of American law and the role of law in the American political and legal system.
  • To understand the structure, processes and power of the U.S. Supreme Court and the impact that Court has had in America’s historical development.

  Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Describe and explain the development of the various types of American law.
  • Describe the structure of both state and national court systems.
  • Explain the basic processes for trials and appeals.
  • Explain the basic rules of evidence used by civil and criminal trial courts.
  • Describe the legal profession and the various ways judges are selected.
  • Describe the historical development of the U.S. Supreme Court and the procedures it employs.
  • Evaluate the role of courts in American society.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 250 25%
Quizzes (3) 300 30%
Research Paper 200 20%
Final Exam 250 25%
Total 1000 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introductions 10 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 1 16
Discussion 2 16
Plagiarism Quiz -- Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 16 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 4 16
Quiz 1 100 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 16 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 6 16

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 16 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 8 16
Quiz 2 100 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 16 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 10 16

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 16 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 12 16
Research Paper 200 Sunday
Quiz 3 100

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 16 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 14 16

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 16 Thursday/Saturday
Final Exam 250 Saturday
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview


You will post an initial response to the discussion prompt and two responses to your fellow students. Your initial post is expected to be a minimum of 300 words that answers the question completely. Proper grammar and punctuation is required. You must post your initial response before the responses of others will be visible. Initial responses are due by Thursday at 11:59 pm CT of the assigned week, with responses due by 11:59 pm CT Sunday, except in Week 8 when responses are due by 11:59 pm CT Saturday. 60% of the grade will be based on the initial post with 20% for each required response.


Students will take quizzes in weeks 2, 4, and 6 covering the assigned chapters. They will consist of 30 multiple choice questions, randomly selected from the relevant chapters. One attempt allowed, and a 40 minute time limit will be enforced. Students are expected to complete the quizzes without the use of outside materials. Quizzes are available from 12:01 am CT Friday through 11:59 pm CT Sunday of the assigned week.

Research Paper

Each student will write a research paper of a minimum of 10 pages, excluding the cover page, references/works cited pages. Page count may be reduced for extensive use of images, redundant information, etc. The paper should be formatted with double-spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman font. A works cited or references page and internal citations are required. Successful completion of the Columbia College plagiarism quiz is a release condition for the Research Paper dropbox. More details are available in the Content area.

Final Exam

You will have 120 minutes to complete the proctored Final Exam covering chapters 1-15. It will consist of 35 multiple-choice and 15 short answer questions. The exam will be available in the Quizzes area from 12:01 am CT Tuesday through 11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 8.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Tell us in the subject line "Call me by..." and identify how you want to be addressed throughout the session.   Please include the following: geographic location, profession, degree, hobbies, and any other information that will help us get to know you.

Chapters 1-3

Discussion 1
Chapter 2 of your text offers the idea that federalism complicates the American court structure.  How does it do so and can you offer suggestions for remedying these complications?
Discussion 2
Evaluate the assertion that courts are political as well as legal institutions.  Do you agree with the authors' arguments? How do courts and politics differ?
Plagiarism Quiz

Please complete the Plagiarism Tutorial and Quiz by the end of the first week. The quiz must be completed before you will be allowed to submit your Research Paper.


Chapters 3-5

Discussion 3
The Judiciary Act of 1789 created the current federal court structure after a great deal of debate and disagreement between the Federalists and Anti-federalists.  How do you envision America evolving differently had the Anti-federalists won and this law not passed?
Discussion 4
Because of federalism and the goal of protecting state political and legal autonomy there is no such thing as a "uniform" court structure used by the states ( as will be apparent as you conduct research for your Puerto Rico papers this term).  Which features of state courts do you believe should be reformed?  Which are ideal in their current form?
Quiz 1

You will have one 40 minute attempt to answer 30 multiple choice questions, randomly selected from Chapters 1-5. The quiz is worth 100 points and is available 12:01 am CT Friday through 11:59 CT Sunday in the Quizzes area.

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

Chapters 6-7

Discussion 5
The Founders wanted the courts to be independent bodies.  In addition to making decisions about life and death, whether to award settlements in civil cases, and whether to punish individuals and the severity of that punishment, the courts also make decisions affecting the lives of everyone. The courts have effectively legalized abortion, sanctioned the death penalty, integrated schools, decided whether a city's districts for city council are constitutional, and determined how evidence may be admitted into court. Countless other issues have been decided by courts.  Many judges are appointed for life and are thus free to make difficult decisions that might not be made by legislators. Do you think the courts and judges have too much power as compared to the wishes and expectations of our Founders?
Discussion 6
One of the assertions in chapter 7 of your text is that courts can actually bring about social change.  The example your text provides is the integration of schools and the various social developments that resulted.  Another example is the courts' attention to criminal due process rights in the 1960's and the resulting social change. Can you think of other social changes that have actually been caused by the courts within the last few years or which may be caused by the courts in the near future?

Chapters 8-9

Discussion 7
Various exclusionary rules have been developed in the United States.  Discuss these rules and their impact on the criminal justice process.  Do these rules tend to favor the defendant?
Discussion 8
After reading chapters 8 and 9 of the textbook, evaluate America's criminal procedure.  Which aspects of criminal procedure do you believe work well and which should be eliminated or modified?
Quiz 2

You will have one 40 minute attempt to answer 30 multiple choice questions, randomly selected from Chapters 6-9. The quiz is worth 100 points and is available 12:01 am CT Friday through 11:59 CT Sunday in the Quizzes area.


Chapters 10-11

Discussion 9
Various forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) have been used for decades in the United States to resolve minor civil disputes.  What are examples of civil disputes that should be resolved via ADR?  Should they be subject to mediation or arbitration?
Discussion 10
Chapters 10 and 11 address civil procedure.  Do you believe the rules guiding civil litigation are properly structured to lead to the resolution of disputes?  Which aspects of civil procedure could be improved?
Chapter 12
Discussion 11
After reading about juries and trials in chapter 12 of your text, offer your ideas for improving the jury trial procedure in the United States.  For example, do you believe there are ways to promote more objective decision-making by juries?
Discussion 12
Discuss the methods of preventing prejudicial pretrial publicity.  Are there recent examples of celebrated cases where prejudicial pretrial publicity was a threat to the fair trial guarantee?  What actions were taken to prevent this?
Research Paper

Your 10 page research paper is due Sunday at 11:59 pm CT to the appropriate dropbox folder. You will not be able to submit your assignment until you have completed the Plagiarism Tutorial quiz in the Quizzes area.

Quiz 3

You will have one 40 minute attempt to answer 30 multiple choice questions, randomly selected from Chapters 10-12. The quiz is worth 100 points and is available 12:01 am CT Friday through 11:59 CT Sunday in the Quizzes area.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Chapters 13-14

Discussion 13
The Supreme Court of the United States recently decided a case concerning gay marriage.  Discuss this case as it demonstrates the appellate process.  How did it get to the Supreme Court? What effect does the ruling have on state laws?
Discussion 14
Appellate courts are designed to ensure the trial courts make the correct decisions based on rules of evidence.  After reading chapter 13 of the text can you identify strengths and weaknesses of American appellate procedure?

Chapter 15

Discussion 15
This week we look at the Supreme Court and its power. The court has made major decisions and America would likely be a totally different place had it not been for decisions such as McCulloch v Maryland, Marbury v Madison, Brown v Board of Education and other more recent decisions such as Kelo v New Haven, and Obergefell v. Hodges.  Give the class your ideas regarding how America has been shaped by the Supreme Court and how the Court's decisions are shaped by the particular members on the Court at any given time.
Final Exam

You will have 120 minutes to complete the proctored Final Exam covering chapters 1-15. It will consist of 35 multiple-choice and 15 short answer questions. The exam will be available in the Quizzes area from 12:01 am CT Tuesday through 11:59 pm CT Saturday.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, all required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late papers or quizzes will be accepted without prior approval from the instructor.  Whether the assignment will be accepted is at the discretion of the instructor. No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.