​ Court Docket

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Court Docket Reference Manual

The material that is filed by any party on a case is collected in a court docket. Any items of action on a particular case are maintained on a docket sheet. Sometimes the docket can be used to refer to the schedule of court hearings and can serve as the deciding factor for judges when a case is brought to court. The docket can serve as a reference to the historical actions in a case, so it must be accurate and detailed so that decisions can be made that can impact real people waiting to be brought to court.

Here is your challenge. The American Criminal Court System can be a very complex system to navigate. With all of the misconceptions in the media and on TV, it makes it even more difficult to know really how they work. How would you explain the court system to an individual without any formal background or knowledge about it? You are going to serve as clerk of the court and create a docket that summarizes different elements of the courts that could be used as a reference manual. Each week you will be assigned a task that you can work on individually or with someone that answers the weekly court call.

You will be judged by your peers. At the end of the course, each of you will take on the role of a judge and reach your verdict as to which court docket reference manual could really be used to clarify misconceptions about the American Criminal Court System. Don’t worry because you will have many opportunities to give and get feedback.

Estimated Time

You should spend approximately 8-10 hours on this task.



  1. Create a Table of Contents for your Court Docket Reference Manual. You will be building the Table of Contents throughout the term.
  2. Your first item on your Table of Contents should begin with the date, your initial, and then the title of the assignment. Here is an example for the first module: 12-18-2013GA Polygamy Law Case No. 2:11-cv-0652-CW and 12-18-2013GA Federal and State Courts.
  3. For each entry into your court docket, the title will be provided and highlighted. You will add your initials along with the date.
  4. You will not turn your Table of Contents in until the end of the course with your final version of your court docket that will be judged.
  5. In addition to the Table of Contents, you will create a title page that you will turn in with your final version. You can be creative in how you present your final docket.

Part 1: Polygamy Law Case No. 2:11-cv-0652-CW

We really need to be able to clearly answer this question for the average person, what is a court system? Continue to think about this question each week as we dive into real world cases. At the end of the course, you will provide an analysis to this question. Let’s begin by exploring our first case.

  1. Go to Google and do a search for “Sister Wives case”. You will most likely find video artifacts and articles about the recent court decision.
  2. Review the actual court docket for the case.
  3. Summarize the essence of the case identifying the issues/crime that was committed and the people involved.
  4. Include in your summary how the court system is depicted and how it pertains to the idea of Laws on the Books vs. Law in Action.
  5. Write your opinion on the judge’s decision on the case.
  6. Submit your opinion and summary to the drop box for instructor feedback. You can use this feedback to improve your final version for the Court Docket Reference Manual.

Part 2: Federal and State Courts

There are misconceptions and understandings of the differences between the federal and state courts. In your first entry in the court docket, you compare and contrast the federal and state court systems, including a review on the differences in types of cases heard within each jurisdiction. Here are the specific steps.

  1. After reading Chapters 3 and 4, construct a Venn diagram depicting the various features found within each of the systems.
  2. The diagram may be done in pairs/individual assignments. If you work with another person, be sure to identify who you worked with.
  3. Post your completed Venn diagram to the discussion board, Module 1: Court Docket Reference Manual
  4. Pick one classmate or pair to leave detailed constructive feedback. Be sure to choose someone who does not have feedback from a peer. Offer recommendations for improvement or a tip regarding something that they may have overlooked.
  5. After reviewing all of the diagrams, ADD/Delete to your own Venn Diagram version that will be included in your Court Docket Reference Manual under your Federal and State Courts section for a final grade.

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