International Approaches to Forensic Linguistic Casework

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International Approaches to Forensic Linguistic Casework

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The use of research-based linguistic analysis by the courts is becoming more widespread; experts are called to provide linguistic evidence in criminal and civil cases in many different countries around the world, and such evidence can contribute considerably to a case. Criminal and civil court proceedings and courts expectations of expert witnesses, differ significantly from one jurisdiction to another, and this event aims to shed light on these differences and how they might impact on the manner in which linguistic evidence can be given and used. We will hear from linguists from six different countries about the legal contexts in which they have presented evidence in court and finish the day with a panel discussion between the speakers to draw out the differences between jurisdictions and the common threads in the provision of expert linguistic evidence.

12:40 - Registration opens in Zoom

13:10 - An opening and welcome by Tim Grant

13:20 - Tim Grant - Opening: An introduction to the UK context

13:30 - Sheila Queralt - Forensic Linguistic Evidence in the Spanish judicial system

This talk will introduce how forensic linguistics contributes to legal procedures in Spain. Forensic linguistics is undoubtedly a forensic science that is increasingly in demand and in the Spanish context the expert’s contribution to a case depends largely on the party requesting their services. The different expectations on the part of judicial entities, their assessments and the challenges encountered by forensic linguists will be discussed through the presentation of different cases.

14:00 - Rui Sousa Silva - Forensic linguistic casework in the Portuguese legal system

The Portuguese legal system relies heavily on expert evidence to counter the courts' lack of specific expertise. Unsurprisingly, however, forensic linguistic evidence is not always on a par with other forensic sciences, largely due to the mystification that judges "can also read and write". This talk discusses forensic linguistic evidence in the Portuguese legal system. A case of plagiarism involving a Portuguese politician -- whose outcome was largely based on my report and on the evidence given in court -- is presented to discuss some of the challenges, expectations, vicissitudes and disappointments involved in the provision of forensic linguistic evidence.

14:30 - Andrea Nini - The Ayia Napa rape statements

In July 2019, a British teenager was arrested in Ayia Napa in Cyprus after handwriting a statement admitting to lying about being raped by a group of Israeli men. The teenager later claimed that she was forced to write this statement by the police. Because the statements were not video or audio recorded, the only evidence available was linguistic, similarly to earlier forensic linguistics cases (e.g. Bentley, Evans). My report shows linguistic evidence not consistent with the author being a native speaker of British English. Despite the absence of a prosecution forensic linguistics expert, this evidence was discarded by the judge.

15:00 - Hulya Kocagul-Yuzer & Utku Tanrivere - Forensic linguist and linguistics in Turkish judicial system

Forensic linguistics in Turkey dates back to 2016, when it first constituted a backbone of two different studies. It has recently been introduced into courtrooms and mostly been applied to simulated studies in the virtual world where terrorist activities, illegal trafficking, fraud, and unknown authorship cases occur (e.g., Kocagul, 2018; Tanrivere, 2018; 2020).

Kocagul and Tanrivere applied separately simulated authorship attribution studies in Turkish texts from the World Wide Web. The results showed that the methods could assign the correct authors regardless of text sizes. Even though real-world cases have different characteristics and flexibility in language, confidentiality issues usually force researchers to use either.

15:30 - Sabine Ehrhardt – - Forensic Linguistics in German law enforcement

In 1987, Germany incorporated Forensic Linguistics into its Federal Forensic Science Institute and, thus, into a federal German police authority. Since then, the discipline has developed side by side to other, more widely known forensic sciences and underwent an extensive process of professionalization. Today, it is fully accepted both by German police and the courts, although its level of dissemination within other forensics science institutes increased only slightly.

The talk illustrates how Forensic Linguistics is typically used to help law enforcement agencies in Germany. Based on an example of a homicide case, the discipline’s benefits, challenges and prospects will be examined.“

16:00 - Edward Finegan - Forensic Linguistic Evidence in U.S. Courts: Defamation in Cohen v. Hansen

U.S. courts differ across 50 states and 13 federal circuits, the latter comprising 94 “district” (trial) courts. In 2016, having been deposed about my opinions, I testified to a jury in the U.S. District Court in Nevada about the pragmatics of a website whose banner asked “Is Bradley S. Cohen the Next Bernie Madoff?” The jury in Cohen v. Hansen awarded the plaintiff more than $38 million in damages, a judgment affirmed by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (where the linguistic testimony was not an issue). I’ll use the case to illustrate select discovery practices, admissibility, and related issues in FL casework.

16:30 - Panel Discussion

17:00 - Gather in Wonder- our online social space


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