The Expert Linguist Meets the Adversarial System
THE ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF FORENSIC LINGUISTICS, Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson, eds., Forthcoming
27 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2009
Date Written: December 11, 2009
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.
Keywords: bias, forensic, evidence, linguistics, expert
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