The U.S. Justice System

An Encyclopedia

by Steven Harmon Wilson, Editor


"… with liberty and justice for all." This phrase—the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance—is familiar to most Americans. But attempting to fulfill this simple promise involves a complicated system of judges, litigators, politicians, law enforcement officers, state and federal regulatory agencies, and correctional facilities.

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Cover image for The U.S. Justice System

December 2011


Pages 1276
Volumes 3
Size 7x10
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Law

A comprehensive, three-volume set that provides detailed background essays, short topical entries, and primary document excerpts to explain the organization, history, and functioning of the U.S. justice system.

The U.S. Justice System: An Encyclopedia is a one-stop resource, uniquely structured to include both introductory information as well as more in-depth and detailed resources. It explains not only how the American civil and criminal justice system affects the parties to a particular case or other legal action, but also how the rights, benefits, and legal protections of our country impact virtually all people in America.

The set comprises three volumes. The first volume provides chapter-length essays explaining the organization and functioning of federal, state, and local government, as well as the working of federal and state judiciaries, regulatory bodies, and penal systems. The second volume contains shorter, alphabetically arranged entries on hundreds of law-related topics, including case descriptions and biographies of major figures, federal and state court organizational charts, legal statistics, and other background information. The third volume contains original documents, statutes, and texts of important cases relevant to the functioning of the American justice system.

Readers will understand the structures, concepts, and vocabulary of American law and legal institutions, and grasp how the U.S. legal system has evolved to meet the complex changing needs of the nation.


  • More than 50 contributing scholars provide a variety of expertise from the fields of law, history, and politics
  • A separate volume of primary source documents
  • A comprehensive bibliography as well as suggested readings for each essay and article
  • A glossary of hundreds of key terms like "contract," "injunction," and "precedent"


  • Contains essays covering important concepts such as procedures of civil litigation, fundamentals of criminal law, and the appellate process
  • Uses descriptive language and clear narration rather than statistical data to explain key points
  • Includes coverage of state and local matters rather than just federal issues
  • Delivers controversial material in a balanced, nonpartisan fashion
Author Info

Steven Harmon Wilson is associate dean of liberal arts at Tulsa Community College, Metro Campus, Tulsa, OK. Dr. Wilson's published works include The Rise of Judicial Management in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 1955–2000.



"It is thorough in that it covers both federal and state issues and the editor has made every attempt to deliver the material in a way that is nonpartisan and balanced. This will be a useful resource for undergraduate libraries as well as larger public libraries."ARBA

"This set provides a solid overview of the subject and contributors do an excellent job explaining legal jargon throughout. The combination of essays, encyclopedic entries, primary source documents, and a good index and glossary makes the resource navigable and useful for students and reference librarians. Recommended for public and high school libraries."Booklist

"Each entry is signed by the contributor and includes a 'Further Reading' section. Volume 3 contains important primary documents showing the history and function of law enforcement, including the US Supreme Court and other federal courts, along with state and local considerations. . . . Summing Up: Recommended"Choice

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