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Hardcover Linguistic Evidence: Language, Power, and Strategy in the Courtroom Book

ISBN: 0125235208

ISBN13: 9780125235204

Linguistic Evidence: Language, Power, and Strategy in the Courtroom

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

With the permission of a North Carolina court, more than 150 hours of courtroom speech were recorded for this study. These tapes provided a rich archive for a variety of different types of inquiry,... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

2 ratings

What lawyers say isn't always what they communicate

This book presents an excellent sociolinguistic analysis of courtroom speech, and shows how the speech of attorneys and witnesses can communicate much more than the words themselves reveal. One illuminating study looked at "narrative" (longer, story-telling answers) and "fragmented" (short, directly responsive answers) styles of witness testimony and laypeople's reactions to that testimony. When the witness gave longer answers, laypeople perceived that the lawyer had greater trust in that witness. Interestingly, this effect was much stronger for a male witness than for a female witness; O'Barr suggests that the disparity may be due to gender-role stereotypes that expect a male to be more assertive. This is only one example, but the book is full of thought-provoking studies on courtroom language. The book offers especially good insight in analyzing how certain speech habits can demonstrate sincerity, knowledge, power, and trustworthiness.

How courtroom cases may be lost without regard to merit

This is, by any standards, an astonishing little book. It should be required reading for every lawyer and for every person who is concerned to see *justice* done in the courtroom. Mack O'Barr is an anthropologist. His unusual perspective on the behavior of lawyers and the perceived credibility of witnesses offers startling insight into jury decision making. His book is both fascinating and deeply depressing by turns. His empirical studies show that those citizens most in need of legal redress come to the courtroom two strikes down. His account offers a frightening new dimension to Marc Galanter's "Why the 'Haves' Come Out Ahead" and emphasises the obstacles faced by ther disadvantaged when they seek to invoke the law in their aid. The book explains why many of the forensic techniques discovered empirically and regularly deployed by lawyers work. I wish I had known of this book when I was a criminal advocate - it would have allowed me to cross-examine witnesses more effectively. Although the book is a straight forward account of a piece of academic research, it is readable and engaging. The only negative comment I would make is that there is little discussion of the implications of the research findings - perhaps that might be better left to John Conley who has subsequently collaborated closely with O'Barr. This book deserves to be much better known than it is.
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