America is a nation obsessed with crime and the law. We are devoted viewers of Law and Order and CSI. When we slip and fall in the grocery store, we sue. When we cannot agree on what society should value, we turn to the courts to solve our moral conundrums. The law has permeated American life so thoroughly that knowledge of the courts and legal principles is essential for all reporters, whether they want to cover sports, business, entertainment, or politics. With a specific, thorough, and practical approach, this text is an engaging and accessible introduction to the American court system, its players, language, and impact on the public. Written by a veteran court reporter, the book provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge for covering this beat, including: * How to cover the courts and the law accurately, fairly, and with healthy skepticism; * How to find stories in the courts and how to read legal documents and make sense of them; * A discussion of the advances in technology that are changing the way stories are reported and delivered, as well as how to access electronic information maintained by the courts; * Concrete examples, provided throughout the text, of what it is like to cover courts. A valuable resource, Covering America's Courts provides students, bloggers, and citizen journalists with the foundation they need to walk into a courthouse anywhere in the country and report fairly, clearly, and ethically about criminal and civil cases.