Forensic Linguistic Analysis of Court Room Language

In this case he Friendly Counsel is the prosecution and the Cross-Examination the defense. 1. The aims of the investigation. This research project analyses two texts from opposing legal sides. They both involve the questioning of a prosecution witness. The texts are from An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence (Calculator and Johnson, 2007, p. 107 – 110). This project builds upon the research already conducted by the authors. This incremental research utilizes the Holiday systemic function linguistic framework in Unit 8 Ways of Speaking – Exploring Linguistic Variability (White, 2005, p. 6), forever it also employs the critical linguistic approach in Unit 20 Critical Linguistic Approaches (White, 2005), particularly the recommended guidelines (p. 123) for conducting a small-scale research project. As the link between language choices and social context is crucial to critical linguistics (White, 2005, Unit 20, Pl 21), the approach taken in this project has been refined since the research proposal to provide more relevant links between language and social context. Forensic Linguistic Analysis of Court Room Language By dateable Although legal texts were not mentioned in the IEEE material, applicable frameworks ere.

The rationale for choosing text from the legal register is based on current social issues of fairness. Two recent legal issues have raised questions of what is fair and Just. In Russia there has been much international condemnation over the severity of punishment that the political punk band ‘Puss Riot’ received (Daniel Sanford, 2012). In Britain, there has also been international and domestic attention to the handling of Julian Ganges (BBC, 2012) who ran the website Weeklies’, which published secret and delicate government documents. Legal issues such as these seem to test the Justness of the legal system.

This project is an investigation into finer aspects of the legal register; the language used by lawyers to achieve their goal. This area of linguistics comes under Forensic Linguistics, a branch of applied linguistics, which has been growing in prominence, particularly in the last fifteen years. (Calculator and Johnson, 2007, p. 5). Certain cases such as Derek Bentley (Grant, 2009), who was hanged in 1953 for his part in the murder of a policeman, have been revised, after a discourse analysis led to his pardon in 1998 due to linguistic anomalies in statements of witnesses and the accused.

In 2002, Stuart Campbell was convicted of the murder of Danville Jones (Grant, 2009) after an analysis of text messages from his mobile phone. Whereas previous research has focused on the language of witnesses and accused, this project adopts a different perspective and focuses on the language used by lawyers to obtain desired information and answers from witnesses. Relevant IEEE material A systemic functional linguistic approach is taken involving the metrifications of field, tenor and mode.

Systemic functional linguistics specifies, “much more precisely which aspects of the social context might influence or determine which aspects of the language are being used” (White, 2005, Unit 8, p. 14). This project uses the following selected elements of systemic functional linguistics. Field Semantic categories of lexical verbs, transitivity and semantic domain, In particular Unit 11 The angle on the world (Loran’s and White, 2005) is focused transitivity as “participants which interact with one another, the notion only applies to material, mental and verbal processes” (p. 44). This research shows how each lawyer represents the world and events in supporting their case. It indicates if intransitive structures are used or whether transitive structures are used displaying who or what is acting on whom or what. Semantic domain provides information about the focus of lawyer questions and assists the latter analysis of lexical chains. In summary, these field elements show how each lawyer displays relevant events to support their case. Mode Lexical density, lexical cohesion and thematic organization/progression.

A lexical density analysis is included to determine if the questions were produced ‘off-line’ or ‘on-line’. This relates to Unit 8 Ways of Speaking – Exploring Linguistic Variability section four (White, 2006, p. 36 – 41). Differing to other parts of the analysis, the witness’ responses are included separately in the lexical density analysis. The analysis is shown in percentages to compare the density of packaged information between the lawyers and the witness. The results demonstrate the nature of the utterances, that is if they contain features of off-line written or on-line spontaneous production.

In turn, this could answer the aforementioned social questions. Unit 14 Organizing Messages (Coffin, 2006) is also a useful reference. In addition, thematic origination is analyses to see whether the opposing lawyers organism their questions and statements differently. Unit 1 5 Making a text hang together: the role of lexical cohesion (Coffin, 2006) is used focusing on lexical chains. This project uses these chains to build upon the lexical density results, that is the question of spontaneity, and also how each lawyer interacts with the witness.

Do they use complex language, repetition, synonyms, whole-part taxonomic relationships and/or class sub-class relationships in their questions? The analysis shows complexity of language used, which in turn helps answer the aforementioned social questions. Please note that the witness’ answers are also included in this analysis to show the cohesion of each text as a whole. Tenor Speech acts and terms of address The table in Unit 12 Getting interpersonal: the grammar of social roles and relationships (White, 2006, Unit 12, p. 19) is used to address which types of speech acts are being used and their function.

This shows how each lawyer positions themselves towards the witness and also the rest of the court. Terms of address are also focused on to see whether the lawyers attempt to personalize their language towards the witness. The Longhand Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English (Bibber et al, 2002) is used to compare results to assist the comparison. This is a useful resource as it is corpus based grammar book focusing on the registers of conversation, news, academia and fiction. Comparing analysis results with these registers provides answers to questions regarding the spontaneity of production of the texts. . The methods used to collect data / the data Since the proposal stage the transcript data used in the analysis has changed. As per recommendation, the word counts of the texts have been increased to approximately here hundred words per text from the original two hundred and fifty. As the texts are from An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence and have been deemed appropriately sized by the authors, they have not been expanded to the full five hundred word recommendation, consequently allowing a close analysis using a range of different elements from various metrifications.

The texts are sourced from An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence book, as it is a more excitable and reliable source of information thus solving any ethical concerns. The texts are included in Appendix 3. Both texts are taken from the start of the examination, thus making them relevantly comparable, although it must be noted that the authors of the book have omitted the first six lines of the Friendly Counsel transcript. This could be due to ethical reasons and/or irrelevant data such as pre-questioning conversation with officials.

Unfortunately, no paralinguistic features were included in the original transcript. Subsequently features such as intonation and body language cannot be analyses, however questions marks have been included for clarity where non-interrogative structures are used to pose questions. . Relevant findings The lexical verbs (Figure 1 . ) found in the transcripts vary in two categories: Communication verbs and Relational/Existential Verbs. Whereas the Friendly counsel uses no communication verbs, the Cross-Examination uses three types: Examples … He (Dry. Shipman) came out and asked (you) if you would witness… Turn 1) Shipman was telling the lady that… (turn 4) you could not say who? (turn 27) … That Dry. The cross-examination uses communication verbs to clarify what was said and who said what to whom. The communication verb told occurs the most and appears in here assertive positions. … When you told the court that… That is not correct… (turn 25) The cross-examination uses the verb told transitively with the witness as the ‘Sayers’ and the court as the ‘receiver’ to confirm that the witness had said something, which was not true or inaccurate such as in the example above.

Communication verbs are used by the cross-examination as a device to discredit the witness’ pre-trial statement. The Friendly Counsel’s lack of communication verbs suggests that they could be dominantly used by cross-examiners in face-threatening acts challenging dinettes (Calculator and Johnson, 2007, p. 29). Another salient feature is the higher occurrence of relational/existential verbs in the cross-examination transcript, in particular the verb be. Examples (Cross-Examination) On the desk was a document? (turn 17) The only bit that was free was where the signature was… Turn 25) This finding suggests that, like the communication verbs, relational and existential verbs are used to challenge the witness’ version of events (turn 25) or to build up a cross-examination narrative of events (turn 17). The friendly counsel also uses the orb be to build up a narrative of events. Example (Friendly Counsel) In company with the person who was in after you? (turn 17) In summary, the higher occurrence of relational and existential verbs correlates with the Cross-Examination’s challenging nature and its need to build up its own version of events supporting its own case.

Findings in Mode and Tenor Figure 10. Cross-examination Friendly Counsel A salient feature in the analysis (figure 4) was the difference in the lexical density of the witness answers. The analyses of thematic progression (figure 6) and speech acts Cross Examination The Cross-Examination uses a high amount of declarative formed questions combined with a high amount of textual and experiential themes in comparison to interpersonal themes. Because it was folded you could not actually see what was on the document itself, could you? Turn 21) The position is that when you went into the surgery it was already folded over? (turn 29) In both examples, the lawyer receives his desired yes or no response. The analysis suggests that these types of utterance formation pressurize the witness and prevent him from providing the court with more information however, the utterance orientations do not achieve this alone. Social context must be taken into consideration. The witness has the right to provide more information, but chooses not to.

The utterances create pressure on the witness that, combined with the institutional practices and expectations of the court and the witness’ relative inequality , prevent him from deviating from the expected replies. The Friendly Counsel uses a high amount of interpersonal themes and polar questions. Did you go in alone or in company with anyone? (turn 15) Did you have any sort of conversation with Dry. Shipman in the waiting room area at NY time that day? (turn 9) Unlike in the examples used by the Cross-Examination above, the lawyer appears not to receive his desired response.

The witness has more confidence and freedom to express himself under friendly examination. In comparison with the findings in the Cross-Examination, this suggests that the utterance formations used by the Friendly Counsel, and the friendly relationship between witness and lawyer do not position the witness as intended, however this does allow the witness more freedom to express himself. The two-directional arrows in the diagram indicate the social intent; both parties have more freedom in comparison to the one-way pressure created by the cross-examination.

In summary, the Friendly Counsel’s questioning method is flexible suggesting that both witness and lawyer are comfortable or have a more equal social status, whereas the Cross-Examination’s questioning method is ridged with no room for challenge concluding that the witness has a much lower social status. The findings in Figure 6 indicate the thematic progressions throughout the two transcripts. The salient feature is the steep increase in interpersonal, experiential or actual themes in the last six/seven lawyer speaking turns.

This analysis suggests that the questions posed to the witness have been planned prior to questioning and thus produced ‘offline’. In connection with figure 10, the Cross Examination appears to apply pressure during the last six lawyer-speaking-turns and up until turn 19, all three theme types are used relatively equally. Textual and experiential themes are only used from turn 21 onwards. Because it was folded you could not actually… Itself, could you? (Turn 21) That document was already folded… Urges, was it not? (Turn 23) So therefore when you told that Dry.

Shipman folded… You were to sign? (turn 25) But you could… Who? (Turn 27) The position is that when… Folded over? (Turn 29) And all that you… Was K. Grungy? (Turn 31) Another interesting finding is that the lexical chains (figure 5. 1) show that the most commonly used words all appear densely in this section ending with the impact of the victim’s full name being used for the first time in the transcript. The pattern in the examples above and the data in the lexical chains suggest that the questions were produced ‘Offline’ to successfully position and pressurize the witness.

In contrast to the Cross-Examination, the Friendly Counsel uses almost exclusively interpersonal themes from lawyer speaking turn 25 onwards. In addition, the lexical chains (figure 5. 2) differ to the cross-examination in that only one, new lexical chain (looking) is used in this section. It appears that the Friendly Counsel planned their questions ‘offline’ to include their vital information at the start of the questioning and then have the witness simply confirm extra details around the event. Findings Summary

The question of how each lawyer portrays world events; whether the questions were produced ‘online’ or ‘offline’; and how the lawyers position themselves towards the witness have been answered. The Cross-Examination needs to challenge the witness’s version of events and thus uses experiential and relational verbs to connect entities in the real world. Mostly declarative questions that constrain preference for a desired answer (Calculator and version of events and allow the witness little chance to challenge them, in turn creating a very unequal social status between witness and lawyer.

The Friendly Counsel needs to allow the witness to repeat and confirm what he said in the pre- trial statement. This accounts for the dominant use of only activity verbs. Although the evidence in the findings suggest that the friendly counsel’s questions are also produced ‘offline’, the questioning appears more flexible with the witness responding in different ways to the norms supporting one of Sacks’ observations of conversation that “What or said or done is not determined in advance” (Calculator and Johnson, 2007, p. 32). This suggests a more balanced equal social status between lawyer and

Observation of questions – Question tags only occur once in the Cross-Examination and are not used by the Friendly Counsel. – The Friendly Counsel uses sixteen interrogatives structures out of nineteen turns. – The Cross-Examination uses four interrogative structures out of sixteen turns. Bibber et al (2002, p. 252) make the observation that interrogatives most commonly occur in conversation. This observation suggests that the Friendly Counsel’s question are more ‘online’ than the Cross-Examination’s or that the Friendly Counsel’s questions were designed to fit thin the conversation register to make the witness more comfortable.

The latter possibility is likely to be correct as Bibber et al also make the observation that nearly half of interrogatives in conversation occur as fragments or question tags. No question tags appear in the Friendly Counsel text supporting that, although the Friendly Counsel’s question may appear to be more ‘online’, they are also produced ‘offline’. Answers to main question It has thus been proven that there are salient differences between Friendly Counsel and Cross- Examination use of language. The Cross-Examination, although tough on the witness, appears to be fair.

The lawyer does not use any language with negative semantic prosodies and the witness is allowed to answer posed questions concluding that the positioning the witness through grammatical devices is an intellectual way of getting the desired response. The Friendly Counsel’s examination also appears to be fair. The lawyer allows the witness to reply more openly, whilst eventually getting the desired response. However, there are times when the witness seems to be fed information (Turn 27) to cake the witness appear more favorable to the Jury. E fair and inline with other industries that use language to achieve certain goals such as Job interviews. 3. Evaluation of project The project answered the main questions using tools from the IEEE material. It was successful in showing the differences in grammar between a Cross-Examination Counsel and a Friendly Counsel. Furthermore, correlating features were exposed by showing data in tables, which led to more interesting findings such as conversationalists of ‘offline’ texts. The research’s shortcomings were a result of its size limitation.

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