Equity in the United States Decisions based on a judge's sense of fairness rather than strict common law standards. The equity model permits judges to issue remedies in civil cases based on equitable principles that are outside or that supplement common law. Some of the flexibility of equity […]

Stare Decisis

Stare Decisis in the United States Latin for "let the decision stand." Stare Decisis (Judicial Function) holds that once a principle of law is established for a particular legal situation, courts should adhere to that principle in similar cases in the future. The case in which the […]


Tort in the United States Introduction A private or civil injury to a person or property. An injured party may bring suit, but tort actions do not represent a major portion of civil case filings. Rather, such claims are typically resolved prior to the filing of a lawsuit. The potential for […]


Citizenship in the United States Definition of Citizenship Citizenship means membership in a political community. Citizenship may pertain either to a state or to the United States or to both. Each status carries with it certain obligations of the citizen and also gives the citizen the […]

Criminal Law

Criminal Law in the United States Law that deals with formally forbidden conduct. Criminal law both declares what conduct is illegal and sets forth the penalties for violations. The purpose of criminal law is the prevention of harm to the community and the protection of public safety. […]

Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution in the United States Dispute Resolution Definition Alternative Dispute Resolution (Adr) in this Legal Encyclopedia Alternative Dispute Resolution (Adr) definition in the Law Dictionary Judicial function aimed at producing settlement of conflict. Dispute resolution […]


Statute in the United States Law enacted by the legislative branch of government. Statutes are enacted by legislatures under power authorized and means prescribed by federal and state constitutions. Resolutions adopted by legislative bodies are not considered statutes. Law adopted by […]


Mediation in the United States Intervention intended to promote a settlement by a third party in a dispute. Mediation is generally nonadversarial in character and is conducted informally. The process may ultimately produce resolution of the dispute, but it may not be that successful. Instead, […]


Adjudication in the United States The judicial act of making a judgment in a legal action. Adjudication involves formal decision making processes as a court moves to a final judgment in a lawsuit. Adjudication requires, at minimum, notice to all parties that a decision is being sought, and an […]


Litigation in the United States A lawsuit that is contested in a court. Litigation is a civil legal action initiated for the purpose of enforcing a legal right or securing some kind of legal remedy. Litigation is a controversy that is taken all the way to trial and is decided on the basis of […]

Common Law

Common Law in the United States Common Law Definition That system of law or form of the science of jurisprudence which has prevailed in England and in the United States of America, in contradistinction to other great systems, such as the Roman or civil law. As distinguished from statute […]

Due Process Of Law

Due Process of Law in the United States Legal concept representing the normal and regular administration of law. Due process is founded on the principle that government may not act arbitrarily or capriciously. It means that government may only act in ways established by law and under such […]

Common Law System

Common Law System in the United States Definition and Description of Common Law A body of principles that derive their authority from court judgments that embrace common customs and usages. Common law consists of all such principles that do not have their origin in statute or legislative […]


Precedent in the United States A previous court ruling on a question of law. A precedent is recognized as providing a basis for resolving identical or similar cases coming before courts at a later date. Precedents are regarded as a principal source of common law. A precedent may be […]

Civil Law

Civil Law in the United States Law concerned with private rights and remedies. Civil law is different from criminal law in that it focuses on transactions of a private kind. Criminal law, on the other hand, prescribes and proscribes behavior in an attempt to protect society from harm. The […]


Writ in the United States A written order from a court requiring the recipient of the order to do what is commanded. Numerous kinds of writs exist, but they generally are directed either toward commencement or furtherance of a lawsuit, or they require some particular action to be performed. […]

Constitutional Law

Constitutional Law in the United States The aspect of public law that deals with the organic or fundamental law of a political system. Constitutional law addresses itself to the basic organizational framework of the government and the authority of those occupying governmental positions. […]


Controversy in the United States A properly asserted legal claim made in a manner appropriate for judicial response. A case or controversy may be decided by federal courts under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. For a case to constitute a bona fide controversy sufficient to satisfy Article […]

Adversary System

Adversary System in the United States A set of processes intended to allow opposing parties in a dispute to present their arguments. Under the adversary system, formal notice is served on the party against whom an action has been filed to allow that party an opportunity to respond. The […]

Procedural Due Process

Procedural Due Process in the United States A procedural review that focuses on the means by which governmental actions are executed. Procedural due process guarantees fairness in the ways that government imposes restrictions and punishments. It demands that before any deprivation of liberty […]

Natural Law

Natural Law in the United States Jurisprudential view that laws which govern all things have their origin in nature. The natural law concept is that such laws are both eternal and unchanging. Natural law jurisprudence asserts that fundamental rules governing human behavior derive from basic […]

Political Jurisprudence

Political Jurisprudence in the United States An approach to the study of law and courts that features the political character of judicial processes. Political jurisprudence is a conceptualization of law with its roots in legal realism generally and sociological jurisprudence more specifically. […]

Legal Positivism

Legal Positivism in the United States A jurisprudence that sees law as a body of man-made rules. Key to legal positivism is the concept of sovereignty and the exercise of sovereign power. Positive law sets out rules of conduct based on the relationship between those who rule and those who are […]

Judicial Function

Judicial Function in the United States The roles performed by the courts in the political system of the United States. Several judicial functions are prominent. The first and most common is dispute resolution. The courts provide a forum for the presentation of arguments and processes by which […]

Behavioral Jurisprudence

Behavioral Jurisprudence in the United States A jurisprudential view that features theories of human decision making. Behavioral jurisprudence attempts to explain law as emanating from the individual values of the principal official participants in the legal process. Behavioral jurisprudence […]

Judicial System

Judicial System in the United States There are several components of a legal system. One is an organized framework. An appreciation of the system’s structure is a necessary condition for understanding what each of the pieces contributes as well as how the system as a whole functions. Second, […]