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Taylor & Francis
American Law and Legal Systems / Edition 8

American Law and Legal Systems / Edition 8

by James V. Calvi, Susan Coleman


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American Law and Legal Systems / Edition 8

This book thoroughly explores the philosophy of law from political, social, and economical perspectives, in a skillful approach without confusing legalese. It introduces readers to everyday law practices and procedures, as well as the American legal system. The authors explain the basics - from how a lawsuit is filed to the final appeal. Practical coverage on topics such as contracts, wills, and torts complete this reference guide. For anyone fascinated by the changes in - and stability of - the law.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781138654396
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 09/15/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 487,902
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

James V. Calvi is Professor of Political Science at West Texas A&M University.

Susan Coleman is the retired Director of the Criminal Justice Program at West Texas A&M University.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. History and the Law

3. Court Organization

4. Procedure and Evidence

5. Limitations

6. Constitutional Law

7. Criminal Law

8. Administrative Law

9. Environmental Law

10. Torts

11. Contracts

12. Property

13. Family Law

14. Conclusion

Appendix: Legal Research


Table of Cases



In the fifteen years since the publication of the first edition of American Law and Legal Systems, many changes in it have been made. Chapters have been added, deleted, and re-instated. These changes reflect our views about the importance of legal subfields as well as changes that have taken place in the legal environment. Our goal has always been to present as broad an overview of the various subfields as possible within the constraints of time and pages in an textbook. But as with any introductory textbook, the best we can do is to whet the reader's appetite and hope that he or she will want to learn more about the law. In the process, we hope we have conveyed our understanding of and love for America's law and its legal systems.

It is tempting when writing a new edition to stay with what has worked in the past. The examples used, especially the case studies in several of the chapters, were chosen to illustrate key concepts. The case of Rummel v. Estelle that appears at the end of Chapter 7 is illustrative. On March 5, 2003, the United States Supreme Court handed down Lockyer v. Andrade, its long-awaited reconsideration of the so-called threestrike rule. We debated whether we should replace Rummel with Lockyer, which, after all, was supposed to be a more recent interpretation of the Court's thinking on three-strike laws. However, after some consideration we rejected that idea. Lockyer discussed the three-strike rule in a very peripheral way as a procedural matter surrounding the grant or denial of a petition for habeas corpus. It did not, in our opinion, speak to the philosophical debate over the fundamental fairness of thethree-strike rule. So, we stayed with the more familiar Rummel case because it is a better example of the points of substantive criminal law we wished to illustrate. At other times, we replaced examples that might have been pertinent to an earlier generation of students with ones we deemed more relevant to today's students. Even O.J. Simpson loses his pedagogical power after a while.

In a collaboration that has lasted longer than many modern marriages, the list of persons to thank becomes very long indeed. We wish to thank our colleagues in the Department of History & Political Science at West Texas A&M University for their encouragement and support. We especially want to thank Marilyn McMillen, our departmental secretary, who has been an increasingly invaluable assistant with each new edition. Our special thanks to those who reviewed our revision plan and made helpful suggestions: Kathleen Moore, University of Connecticut, Storrs and Howard Schweber, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Finally, we want to thank the people of Prentice-Hall and Carlisle Publishers Services for their help in making this new edition possible. First, our thanks to Charlyce Jones-Owen, Editor-in-Chief, who stepped in for former Political Science Editor Heather Shelstad. Next, we would like to thank Production Liaison Joanne Hakim and Manufacturing Buyer Sherry Lewis, both of Prentice-Hall. Our special thanks goes to Brenda Averkamp of Carlisle Publishers Services for coordinating the editing and production of the manuscript.

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