American Law Dictionary

The American Law Dictionary

Bibliographic Details

  • Author: Peter G Renstrom
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Inc
  • Publication Year: 1991
  • ISBN: 0-87436-226-1
  • No of Pages: 308


Explains legal and judicial terms, concepts, and phrases . The dictionary is divided into seven chapters that cover law, judicial environment, and judicial function; judicial organization; judicial personnel; the criminal judicial process; the civil judicial process; the appellate process; and judicial policies and impact. Each definition is followed by a discussion that provides additional background or historical perspective. Annotation


This volume is part of a series founded on the idea that precise language is the primary tool of every discipline.

Booklist Review

The American Law Dictionary is the most recent addition to the Clio Dictionaries in Political Science series, founded on the idea that precise language “is the primary tool of every discipline.” The subject of this particular volume is the American legal process; its purpose is to explicate the fundamental terms and concepts of that process. The dictionary contains over 300 definitions of legal terms and concepts. The relatively small number of terms included in the dictionary, compared with such standard law dictionaries as Black’s Law Dictionary, reflects the series policy of working extensively with a limited number of terms. The American Law Dictionary is divided into seven chapters: “Law, Judicial Environment, and Judicial Function”; “Judicial Organization”; “Judicial Process Personnel”; “The Criminal Judicial Process”; “The Civil Judicial Process”; “The Appellate Judicial Process”; and “Judicial Policies and Impact.” Each chapter opens with a brief overview of the subject to be discussed. Within these subject chapters, terms are arranged alphabetically. Each entry follows the same format. The term is defined, followed by a section explaining its historical and current significance. Entries vary in length. Terms such as summons, pro bono publico, and stand mute are covered in two brief paragraphs each, while sentence, plea bargaining, and due process of law require a page or more. The majority of entries are followed by see also references to related terms. A complete index at the end of the volume includes references to main entries, designated by a boldface number, and references to terms or legal cases included in the text of entries, designated by a number in regular type. See references direct the user to the correct term or case name; for example, looking under Bakke in the index leads to Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The dictionary is extremely readable. Complex, intricate, and sometimes dry legal terms become interesting and easily understood because of Renstrom’s clear and stimulating writing. The American Law Dictionary is not intended to be a comprehensive dictionary of law but to provide the reader with the definitions necessary to supplement information found in other sources. In the past the RBB Editorial Board has recommended titles in this series for purchase by high school and college libraries or any general political science or reference collection. The American Law Dictionary can be recommended for a similar audience with the inclusion of legal studies students and those who work in the legal system. (Reviewed Nov. 1, 1991)

Choice Review

This encyclopedic dictionary provides comprehensive definitions of carefully selected fundamental terms, phrases, and concepts pertaining to the American judicial system. Based on the coverage of American court processes in existing textbooks, seven subject-focused chapters (e.g., judicial organization, civil judicial process) were identified as relevant for this dictionary. Within each of these chapters, entries about the subject are arranged alphabetically. Each of the 323 entries is given a number; both the entry term and number appear in boldface type. The first paragraph of each entry contains the definition and some discussion. The second or “significance” paragraph provides background, historical perspective, and comments on the definition’s importance. At the ends of both the definition paragraph and the significance paragraph, cross-references to related terms, listed by entry number, serve as guides to further information about a particular topic. An excellent index, generous cross-references, and a logical arrangement contribute to the effectiveness of this dictionary as a reliable reference tool. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections. -H. Q. Schroyer, Purdue University Libraries



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