The Expert Linguist Meets the Adversarial System
Lawrence M. Solan
Brooklyn Law School
December 11, 2009
THE ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF FORENSIC LINGUISTICS, Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson, eds., Forthcoming
Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 178
The lawyer’s obligations in a litigation are both to the client and to the judicial system. Rules of conduct leave a wide range of possibilities for lawyers to attempt to persuade a judge or jury through insincere statements that do not reach the level of falsehood. This chapter examines the role of the expert in such a system. The lawyer’s interest is in having an expert that has become committed to being a team player. In these circumstances, it is very difficult for experts to maintain their independence. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that forensic linguists and other forensic scientists develop methodologies that have been tested to be reliable, and which can speak for themselves. Proficiency testing is discussed as a stopgap measure while methods are developed in new fields. In setting forth the problem, the chapter explores certain biases to which experts are susceptible even with they try to act disinterestedly, and discusses the “bias blind spot,” a term used by psychologists to describe the propensity to believe that oneself is immune from bias even if others are susceptible.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: bias, forensic, evidence, linguistics, expert
Date posted: December 12, 2009
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