This book is intended to be a supplemental text, which will introduce students to the American criminal justice process and legal system. The vehicle by which this is accomplished is a case study involving the Williams case, that was twice appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Williams case was selected due to its interesting factual and legal issues, which quickly capture the students’ attention, making them want to read more. While the facts of the case at first seem simple, leading to what one would expect to be a quick resolution of the case, the story goes on to reveal the complexity of the law and the judicial process. The Williams case also nicely illustrates the weakness of some of the myths that the public has come to believe about the legal system.
The central pedagogical feature of the text is its ability to unite a discussion of the criminal justice process and the legal system with a concrete case through a narrative-based text. This enables the reader to learn about the process by which a case moves through the legal system while at the same time having a consistent storyline to follow throughout the book. For most students this will allow the information to be more accessible, and should lead to better retention. While the book is not intended to be an all-inclusive text, it should provide students with a basic understanding of the inner workings of criminal trials and the appellate process. It emphasizes the role that discretionary choices make in the judicial process. The book will also leave the student with substantial knowledge of the rights against self-incrimination, the right to counsel, and the role of the exclusionary rule in the judicial process.