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  • 1. Court cases generally begin with a dispute. Private-initiated, public-initiated, and public defendant disputes constitute, for the most part, the workload of American courts. When disputes move from the trial to the appellate level, they are typically transformed and become almost exclusively disputes about law or about procedures.
  • 2. Courts are composed of four distinct groups of participants—litigants, lawyers, judges, and juries. Litigants can be distinguished by the relative frequency with which they resort to court services. There are two types—the "one-shotters" and the "repeat players."
  • 3. Judges are the most prestigious participants in court processes. They adjudicate cases, control the flow of litigation in their courtrooms, and administer their courts. Judges' personal backgrounds and values affect their decisions, which in turn are bases for their recruitment to a position on a higher court.
  • 4. Juries are used exclusively in trial courts. The principal issues surrounding the participation of jurors in the processing of disputes are their effectiveness on checking the power of judges; the use of the scientific method in jury selection, the degree of their representativeness of the community; and their competence.
  • 5. Although the principal function of legislative bodies is lawmaking, they also engage in conflict management and integrative functions. White males are still substantially overrepresented among legislators. For better or worse, lobbyists play diverse, key roles in the legislative process.
  • 6. Administrative agencies, often called the fourth branch of government, reach into virtually every corner of American life. Administrative rules affect the food we eat, the cars we drive, the fuel we use, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, and even the air we breathe. Administrative agencies have powers of investigation, rulemaking, and adjudication.
  • 7. The police are expected and empowered to enforce the law. In the United States, there is no unified system of law enforcement. An important characteristic of

law enforcement is the strongly bureaucratic and militaristic organization of the police. Law enforcement features a high amount of discretion. This basic fact of policing creates a thin line between discretion and discrimination as the police enforce the law.

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