To the ordinary person, who hasn't spent three years grinding through law school, legalese gets its point across as clearly and effortlessly as a dose of ancient Greek. Right up there with medical lingo, legal jargon confuses and alienates folks, makes them feel stupid and ill at ease. A translation or two, however, can go a long way toward clearing the legal air. With concise and sensible definitions, Merriam Webster's Dictionary of Law
converts a lease, will, or summons into standard English, and removes the intimidation factor from what is, basically, an effort at reliable communication. Been wondering about tortfeasors and arrears, peculation and naked promises, John Doe summonses and Terry stops? From ABA (American Bar Association) to Zone of Privacy ("an area or aspect of life that is held to be protected from intrusion by a specific constitutional guarantee"), the dictionary defines and explains 10,000 legal terms, allowing a ready grasp of laws, statutes, and legal procedures to anyone who knows how to crack open a dictionary.
Despite the title, the book is more than a mere dictionary. There's a chapter explaining the United States judicial system, a chapter discussing important legal cases, and another summarizing important laws. There's also a section on important legal agencies in the U.S., followed by the full Constitution of the United States, making this a useful family legal reference, adding clarity to news reports, assisting with homework assignments, simplifying potentially scary legal actions, and making government agencies, civil rights, and legal options less daunting and more accessible. --Stephanie Gold
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