Editorial Comment

AuthorCraig Hemmens
Published date01 May 2003
Date01 May 2003
Subject MatterEditorial
10.1177/1043986203251606EDITORIALJournal of Contemporary Criminal Justice / May 2003Hemmens / EDITORIAL COMMENTEDITORIAL
Although there exists a tremendous amount of research published in criminal
justice journals on the various aspects of the criminal justice system, there is
relatively little attention paid to legalissues, particularly criminal procedure.
This is not the case in law reviewsand legal periodicals, which are often filled
with criminal procedure–related issues. The purpose of this special issue is to
highlight this often-neglected but vitally important area of criminal justice
research—the law, in particular, the role of the U.S. Supreme Court. To do
this, I sought out authors who have conducted research on legal issues in
criminal justice from a variety of perspectives.The result is this special issue.
I was pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the authors who
contributed to this special issue. Their skills and professionalism made my
job ridiculously easy.I would also like to acknowledge the support and assis-
tance provided by Chris Eskridge, the editor of the Journal of Contemporary
Criminal Justice. He welcomed my proposal and facilitated the project at
every stage.
The five articles in this special issue covera variety of current legal issues
in criminal procedure. The first article, by Christopher Smith, “The
Rehnquist Court and Criminal Justice: An Empirical Assessment,” servesto
both introduce the topic and demonstrate that legal and empirical analysis
need not be separated from each other.Although much legal research focuses
on the developmentof legal doctrine or the significance of a particular case, it
is possible to apply quantitative analysis to the legal area with impressive
results, as political scientists have long recognized. Professor Smith’sarticle
uses the Supreme Court Judicial Data Base to examine criminal justice–
related decisions handed down between 1995 and 2000 in an effort to deter-
mine whether the high court is generally “conservative” or “liberal” in its
pronouncements. Although the Rehnquist Court has a reputation for being
unfailingly pro–law enforcement, the findings presented in this article sug-
gest reality is a bit more complex.
The next article, by Marvin Zalman and Elsa Shartsis, “A Roadblock Too
Far? Justice O’Connor’s Left Turn on Fourth” narrows the focus of inquiry
from the entire court to one justice, the first woman named to the Supreme
Court. Justice O’Connor is widely noted as a centrist, “swing” justice, one
who is frequently in the majority in 5 to 4 decisions, many of which involve
criminal procedure issues. Thus, her approach to the Fourth Amendment is of
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Vol. 19 No. 2, May 2003 158-160
DOI: 10.1177/1043986203251606
© 2003 Sage Publications

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