What is AMERCEMENT? Definition of AMERCEMENT in Black's Law Dictionary
A pecuniary penalty, in the nature of a fine, imposed upon a person for some fault or misconduct, he being "in mercy" for his offense. It was assessed by the peers of the delinquent, or the affeerors, or imposed arbitrarily at the discretion of the court or the lord. Goodyear v. Sawyer, C.C.Tenn., 17 Fed. 9.
The difference between amercements and fines is as follows : The latter are certain, and are created by some statute ; they can only be imposed and assessed by courts of record; the former are arbitrarily imposed. Termes de la Ley, 40.
The word "amercement" has long been especially used of a mulct or penalty, imposed by a court upon its own officers for neglect of duty, or failure to pay over moneys collected. In particular, the remedy against a sheriff for failing to levy an execution or make return of proceeds of sale is, in several of the states, known as "amercement." In others, the same result is reached by process of attachment. Abbott. Stansbury v. Mfg. Co., 5 N.J.Law, 441.