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American Legal Systems: A Resource and Reference Guide

NCJ Number
Toni M. Fine
Date Published
141 pages
This volume provides an overview of legal institutions and sources of law in the United States and presents a guide to the relationships between and among those institutions and legal authorities.
It discusses the defining role of the doctrine of stare decisis, under which courts must follow decisions of higher-level courts within the same jurisdiction. It also discusses the relative priorities of sources of law in the context of the legislative process, agency action and principles of constitutional and legislative supremacy. Individual sections focus on basic legal principles; the nature of common law; the judicial system as a system based on advocacy and the presence of actual controversy; the roles of attorneys, judges, and juries; primary and secondary sources of law; the use of precedent; and binding versus persuasive authority. Additional sections focus on the nature of a case, analogizing and distinguishing cases, dealing with contrary authority, the terminology related to court and party usage, the precedential effect of case law, Federal laws and legislative history, and administrative law. Further sections focus on civil litigation, appellate court review, party designations and their roles in the civil litigation process, court issuances and dispositions, the basic legal citation form, the preparation of an interoffice memorandum, motions, and appellate briefs. Footnotes, tables, and index