Law Library Newsletter

New & Notable

February 2008


The Party of the First Part: The Curious World of Legalese


Access to Justice in Africa and Beyond: Making the Rule of Law a Reality



Faith and Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law


The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights

 


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The Party of the First Part: The Curious World of Legalese

By Adam Freedman
New York: Henry Holt, 2007
L184.F74 2007


From the Publisher
This clever, user-friendly discourse exposes the simple laws lurking behind decorative, unnecessary, and confusing legal language. For better or for worse, the instruction manual for today’s world is written by lawyers. Everyone needs to understand this manual—but lawyers persist in writing it in language no one can possibly decipher.

Why accuse someone of making “material misstatements of fact,” when you could just call them a liar? What’s the point of a “last” will and testament if, presumably, every will is your last? Did you know that “law” derives from a Norse term meaning “that which is laid down”? So tell your boss to stop laying down the law—it already is.

In The Party of the First Part, Adam Freedman explores the origins of legalese, interprets archaic phrasing (witnesseth!), explains obscure and oddly named laws, and disputes the notion that lawyers are any smarter than the rest of us when judged solely on their briefs. (A brief, by the way, is never so.)


About the Author
Adam Freedman writes the “Legal Lingo” column for the New York Law Journal Magazine, and was a litigator before joining a major investment bank where he earns his living decoding policies and procedures into plain English. He holds degrees from Yale, Oxford, and the University of Chicago and has written for Newsweek International and Slate.com, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Additional Information Online


Access to Justice in Africa and Beyond: Making the Rule of Law a Reality

By Penal Reform International and the Bluhm Legal Clinic of Northwestern University
Chicago, IL: PRI/Bluhm/NITA, 2007
KQC55.A23 2007


From the Publisher

In this book, criminal justice practitioners from around the world explore practical ways of delivering legal aid in criminal justice matters to the poorest sectors of African and other developing societies. They articulate a broad and inclusive definition of legal aid, call on governments, in partnership with civil society, to provide legal aid at all stages in the criminal justice process, to recognize the role of informal means of conflict resolution, including traditional forums, to diversify legal aid service providers, and to encourage legal empowerment of all citizens. The book also contains excerpts from other key international declarations and guidelines pertaining to the treatment of ordinary people caught up in the criminal justice system.


About the Authors

Penal Reform International is an international non-governmental organization working on penal and criminal justice reform worldwide.
PRI has regional programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the South Caucasus and North America. We also work with partner organizations in South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern evolved from Dean John Henry Wigmore’s innovative program with the Chicago Legal Aid Society initiated in 1910. Today, more than 20 clinical professors combine classroom instruction with hands-on experience for more than 120 students who take clinical courses each year.


Additional Information Online


Faith and Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law

Edited by Robert F. Cochran, Jr.
New York: New York University Press, 2008
BL65.L33F352 2008


From the Publisher

The relationship between religion and the law is a hot-button topic in America, with the courts, Congress, journalists, and others engaging in animated debates on what influence, if any, the former should have on the latter. Many of these discussions are dominated by the legal perspective, which views religion as a threat to the law; it is rare to hear how various religions in America view American law, even though most religions have distinct views on law.

In Faith and Law, legal scholars from sixteen different religious traditions contend that religious discourse has an important function in the making, practice, and adjudication of American law, not least because our laws rest upon a framework of religious values. The book includes faiths that have traditionally had an impact on American law, as well as new immigrant faiths that are likely to have a growing influence. Topics include abortion, gay rights, euthanasia, immigrant rights, and blasphemy and free speech.


About the Author
Robert F. Cochran, Jr. is the Louis D. Brandeis Professor and the Director of the Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics at Pepperdine University School of Law. His books include Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought (with Michael McConnell and Angela Carmella).


Additional Information Online


The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights

By James W. Ely
New York: Oxford University Press, 2008
KF562.E54 2008


From the Publisher

The Guardian of Every Other Right chronicles the pivotal role of property rights in fashioning the American constitutional order from the colonial era to the current controversies over eminent domain and land use controls. The book emphasizes the interplay of law, ideology, politics, and economic change in shaping constitutional thought and provides a historical perspective on the contemporary debate about property rights. Since publication of the original edition of this work, both academic and popular interest in the constitutional rights of property owners has markedly increased. Now in its third edition, this text has been revised to incorporate a full treatment of important judicial decisions, notable legislation, and scholarship since the second edition appeared in 1997. Covering the entire history of property rights in the United States, this new edition continues to fill a major gap in the literature of constitutional history.


About the Author
James W. Ely is Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law and Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. He is the author or editor of sixteen books, including Ambivalent Legacy: A Legal History of the South (1984), An Uncertain Tradition: Constitutionalism and the History of the South (1989), The Bill of Rights in Modern America: After 200 Years (1993), The Chief Justiceship of Melville W. Fuller, 1888-1910 (1995), and Railroads and American Law (2001).


Additional Information Online


Newsletter written by law library staff.
New & Notable compiled by Bob Menanteaux and Nancy Minton;
Technical Direction by Greg Soejima


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