Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    Advantage; profit; privilege. Fitch v. Bates, 11 Barb. (N. Y.) 473 ; Synod of Dakota v. State. 2 S. D. 366, 50 N. W. 632, 14 L. In A. 418; Winthrop Co. v. Clinton, 196 Pa. 472, 46 AU. 435, 79 Am. St Rep. 729. In the law of eminent domain, it is a rule that, in assessing damages for private property taken or injured for public use, "special benefits" may be set off against the amount of damage found, but not "general benefits." Within the meaning of this rule, general benefits are such as accrue to the community at large to the vicinage, or to all property similarly situated with reference to the work or improvement in question; while special benefits are such as accrue directly and solely to the owner of the land in question and not to others. Little Miami R. Co. v. Collett, 6 Ohio St. 182; St. Louis, etc., Ry. Co., v. Fowler, 142 Mo. 670, 44 S. W. 771; Gray v. Manhattan Ry. Co., 16 Daly, 510, 12 N. Y. Supp. 542; Barr v. Omaha, 42 Neb. 341, 60 N. W. 591.
    —Benefit building society. The original name for what is now more commonly called a "building society," (q. v.)
    —Benefit of cession. In the civil law. The release of a debtor from fufure imprisonment for his debts, which the law operates in his favor upon the surrender of his property for the benefit of his creditors. Poth. Proc. Civil, pt. 5, c. 2, § 1.
    —Benefit of clergy. In its original sense, the phrase denoted the exemption whi,ch was accorded to clergymen from the jurisdiction of the secular courts, or from arrest or attachment on criminal process issuing from those courts in certain particular cases. Afterwards, it meant a privilege of exemption from the punishment of death accorded to such persons as were clerks, or who could read. This privilege of exemption from capital punishment was anciently allowed to clergymen only, but afterwards to all who were connected with the church, even to its most subordinate officers, and at a still later time to all persons who could read, (then called "clerks,") whether ecclesiastics or laymen. It does not appear to have been extended to cases of high treason, nor did it apply to mere misdemeanors. The privilege was claimed after the person's conviction, by a species of motion in arrest of judgment, technically called "praying his clergy." As a means of testing his clerical character, he was given a psalm to read, (usually, or always, the fifty-first,) and, upon his reading it correctly, he was turned over to the ecclesiastical courts, to be tried by the bishop or a jury of twelve clerks. These heard him on oath, with his witnesses and compurgators, who attested their belief in hls innocence. This privilege operated greatly to mitigate the extreme rigor of the criminal laws, but was found to involve such gross abuses that parliament began to enact that certain crimes should be felonies "without benefit of clergy," and finally, by St. 7 Geo. IV. c. 28, § 6, it was altogether abolished. The act of congress of April 30, 1790, § 30, provided that there should be no banefit of clergy for any capital crime against the United States, and, if this privilege formed a part of the common law of the several states before the Revolution. it no longer exists
    —Benefit of discussion. In the civil law. The right which a surety has to cause the property of the principni debtor to be applied in satisfaction of the obligation in the first instance. Civ. Code La. arts. 3014-3020. In Scotch law. That whereby the antecedent heir, such as the heir of line in a pursuit against the heir of tailzie, etc., must be first pursued to fulfill the defunct's deeds and pay his debts. This banefit is likewise competent in many cases to cautioners.
    —Benefit of division. Same as beneficium divisionis, (q. v.)
    —Benefit of inventory. In the civil law. The privilege which the heir obtains of being liable for the charges and debts of the succession, only to the value of the effects of the succession. by causing an inventory of these effects within the time and manner prescribed by law. Civil Code La. art. lO32.
    —Benefit societies. Under this and several similar names, in various states, corporations exist to receive periodical payments from members, and hold them as a fund to be loaned or given to members .needing pecuniary relief. Such are beneficial societies of Maryland, fund associations of Missouri, loan and fund associations of Massachusetts, mechanics' associations of Michigan, protection societies of New Jersey. Friendly societies in Great Britain are a still more extensive and important species belonging to this class. Comm. v. Equitable Ben. Ass'n, 137 Pa. 412, 18 Atl. 1112; Co.m. v. Aid Ass'n. 94 Pa. 489.