POLI 4023 Exam Review - Essay Questions
Describe and explain the four functions ascribed to courts. Provide examples of
the performance of these functions from the text, speakers, and the film.
There are four major functions ascribed to courts. These functions are dispute resolution,
behavior modification, allocation of gains and losses, and policy making. The first function of
the court, dispute resolution, allows the court to resolve disputes between parties. One way in
which the court can resolve disputes is civil law suits that involve small claims like money and
damages. In this case, the plaintiff or victim starts a law suit against the defendant for causing
physical or emotional injuries. The court must decide whether or not the defendant is responsible
for the injuries suffered. A good example of this is television court shows like “The People’s
Court,” and “Judge Judy.”
The second function of the court is behavior modification. The court can modify people’s
behaviors by punishing them if they commit crimes. In criminal courts, the death penalty and
prison sentences are punishments used to modify behavior so that individuals don’t commit
crimes. For example, because punishment for first degree murder is the death penalty or life in
prison, individuals may think twice before murdering someone.
Another function of the court is allocation of gains and losses. Allocation of gains and
losses allows the court to grant certain remedies to one party at the expense of another. One
example of allocation of gains and losses is divorce court cases in which an individual is
provided with alimony. Another example, also in divorce court cases, is when the husband and
wife must decide which belongings they want to keep or child custody.
The last function ascribed to the court is policy making. The court has the authority to
make policies to enforce certain rules, protect the rights of individuals, and many other reasons.
One example of this is the case, Miranda versus Arizona in 1966, which resulted in the creation
of the policy often referred to as Miranda Rights. This policy states that suspects of a crime must
be advised of their constitutional right to remain silent under the fifth amendment of the U.S.
Constitution. These are the four functions ascribed to courts.
Describe the typical stages of formal action in criminal cases from arrest to sentencing.
How can politics enter into these phases? How do low profile and high profile crimes differ
in these stages?
There are seven typical stages of formal action in criminal cases from arrest to sentencing. These steps
are the arrest, initial court appearance, preliminary hearing, Grand Jury indictment, arraignment, trial, and
sentencing. The first step in the process, the arrest, is when the alleged or suspected offender is seized to
answer for a crime. Of the crimes brought to the attention of the police, only twenty percent result in an arrest.