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Linguistic Expert Evidence in the Common Law

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Abstract

The use of expert witnesses in common-law legal systems became formalised with the development of modern adversarial trial procedure in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Experts in common-law jurisdictions usually work on an adversarial basis; that is they are hired by attorneys and are expected to give partisan testimony. This contrasts with civil-law jurisdictions, where courts generally appoint neutral experts. Common-law jurisdictions define ‘expert’ broadly, as anyone who has specialised knowledge. Unlike lay jurors, experts may state their opinions on core legal issues. In recent decades, common-law jurisdictions have sought to limit questionable expert testimony by developed gatekeeping rules to ensure experts are using sound scientific principles. Linguists have generally had little difficulty gaining recognition under these rules and have given evidence on a broad variety of subjects, including dialect identification, the interpretation of ransom notes or the comprehensibility of instruction manuals.

Keywords

  • Adversarial procedure
  • Author identification
  • Common law
  • Common-law jurisdictions
  • Comparative evidence law
  • Comparative law
  • Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals
  • Expert witnesses
  • Forensic linguistics
  • Legal history

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Correspondence to Andrew Hammel .

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Hammel, A. (2022). Linguistic Expert Evidence in the Common Law. In: Guillén-Nieto, V., Stein, D. (eds) Language as Evidence. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84330-4_3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84330-4_3

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-84329-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-84330-4

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)