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It examines trial chronology: pleas and pleadings; jury selection or voir dire ; opening statement; questioning and narrative in the evidence portion; and closing arguments. Keywords: legal discourse , courtrooms , United States , trials , language , pleas , pleadings , voir dire , closing arguments , opening statement. Her work focuses on legal discourse. She is currently working on a book on complex documents—credit card agreements, mortgage disclosure agreements, pension and benefit plans, and EULAs and TOSAs online. Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase.

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Search within my subject: Select Politics Urban Studies U. History Law Linguistics Literature. Music Neuroscience Philosophy Physical Sciences. Discourse in the us Courtroom. The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. Read More. Allowing for a more metaphorical definition of narrative, the interface between legal and cultural narrative has gained critical interest, and describing this field will reveal meta-level issues concerning narrative studies of the law 3.

Courtroom Discourse Research Papers -

The study of narration understood in the narrow sense as the act of telling a story centers on investigations of witness testimony and statements by the prosecution and the defense and has primarily focused on adversarial Anglo-American trials. Yet this research is also applicable to codified law and civil law system procedures.

Jackson a , b , points out that the pragmatics of how the micro-narratives that make up a given case are narrated, by whom, and under what authority influences the outcome of adversarial trials.

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Narrative typification refers to evaluative judgments based on their perceived likeness to collective, prototypical images of criminals : 32—3 , as well as other narratively organized forms of social knowledge Jackson n. Such differentiations allow Jackson to distinguish between the micro-narratives related within a trial and the macro-narrative of the trial itself : The perceived completeness of stories recited in trials and their apparent compliance with norms of legal reasoning determine whether they will be regarded as plausible.

In the common law tradition, this involves the principle of stare decisis ; in the civil law tradition, plausibility is based on the perceived clarity, consistency, and coherence with which the code is applied. Rules about what is considered to be relevant narration in the courtroom include the degree of detail and presumed objectivity of witness testimony and prohibitions concerning admissible narratives.

Assumptions about what makes testimony valid influence the telling and retelling of the events that trials seek to narrate conclusively.

Forensic linguistics

Further, as Coombe points out, the contest of narratives begins much earlier than in the dramatic setting of the jury courtroom with the selection of evidence that contributes to the narratives presented in courtrooms : Courtroom exchanges are also subject to generic restrictions. Due to the traumatic nature of their experiences, victims may testify in an affective, non-linear, and dissociative mode—qualities resembling norms of avant-garde or Modernist texts—hence appearing suspect to those who adjudge these trials : — Other scholars have also conducted genre-based narrative interrogations of law.

Accordingly, the story of codified law consists of the reconstruction of events and the filling-in of narrative gaps. Since in civil law systems the judge or judges and lay assessors determine the description of previous events on the basis of accumulated evidence, witness questioning, and argument, the meta-narrative of a case has to be reproduced in a written protocol of judgment, which employs persuasive narrative strategies Vismann : 98— Law and Literature interfaces legal protocols with literary narratives to demonstrate the contingent nature of justice.

One ethical-rhetorical approach dates from the work of White Legal and literary rhetoric thus intersect with the ethics of interpretation. Most pertinently, in terms of its potential for narratological research, Goodrich has argued that the basis of law as a science and an autonomous discipline can be found in the medieval philological interpretation and preservation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis : In essence, the establishment of law as a science involved a disregard for the context in which legal texts were created.

Within the US American context, stories that display a high degree of experientiality about being materially disadvantaged and institutionally excluded have provided counter-punctual arguments to the assumption that the legal subject is a white, propertied man. Accordingly, one field of narrative legal scholarship concerns reciting alternative stories to those related in hegemonic legal contexts.

Feminist critique uncovers how acts of domestic abuse do not cohere with legal models which assume that violence takes place between men in public places, and how rape complaints are consistently discredited if their stories do not comply with this model—if the assailant was not a stranger, did not use a weapon, and did not attack a woman outside her home. Personal testimonies to experiences unattended to by legal code and legislation have become vehicles for raising public notice of how rape and sexual slavery are employed as systematic tools of oppression during wartime.

The rights of indigenous peoples have been rendered tangible through personal narrative; and these narratives have contributed to challenging the legal status quo. Somewhat underrepresented in narrative approaches to legal discourse is research that invokes structuralist work on narration and deals specifically with categories of temporality, tense, internality or externality, and reliability. In German statutes one finds similarly impersonal narration about anonymous agents involved in a sequence of hypothetical actions, e. Depending on how wide or narrow their definition of narrative is, some narratologists will argue that this law does not meet the minimum requirements of experientiality, eventfulness, human-like agency, etc. This pattern differs considerably in preambles, where allusions are made to political collectives as a strategy of legitimation von Arnauld : Noting the rhetorical differences between impersonally and personally narrated legal texts and their ideological effects can be achieved through attention to the specific narrative qualities of law. Most pressingly, the issue of how to deal with narrative arises in legal interpretation.

This entails the application of codified law or precedent judgments to the case at hand according to competing rules of application and it raises issues of narrative intentionality. In the US, debate continues about whether the Constitution should be interpreted according to the presumptive original intentions of those who composed it, the exact semantic meanings of the words at the time an act or amendment was enacted, or according to the general purpose of the enactment, which has to be viewed contextually.

This debate has enduring political consequences, as recent US Supreme Court decisions regarding campaign financing and healthcare have amply shown. Legal interpretation concerning European Community law functions differently, as does the application of codified law in civil law systems. Thus recent efforts to homogenize European law and rules of application interface with narratological concerns, as methods of interpreting narrative texts may be variously based on intrinsic textual signals, linguistic concerns, extratextual realities, or historical contingencies.

The insight that legal discourse is not autonomous but inextricably bound to its historical context can be attributed to many sources including Friedman , who argued that a legal system is indivisible from the legal culture through which it is understood, and Cover On the one hand, law is rendered comprehensible through narrative. On the other hand, law is embedded in the cultural narratives that frame it. Hence legal prescriptions cannot be separated from the narratives that situate, explain, and legitimize their prerogative. As a consequence, Cover argues that not only do trials represent contests between narratives, but so do all legal texts as they are interpreted, re-interpreted, and applied over time.

Narratives of law also extend into the future in normative projections of their effects.

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Legal decisions can represent corrective counterfactual readings of the present as in Brown v. Board of Education , which deemed the regular practice of segregating school children on the basis of race unconstitutional. Constructing the historical narrative of a given body of law depends on the legal system in which it transpires and on the sociocultural factors that inform its historicization.

Another form of narrative analysis investigates how literary narratives and their forms participate in altering legal processes. This work has concentrated mostly on the 18th and 19th centuries; it unites genre investigations with narratology and historical investigations of legal procedures. Thus Bender argues that the English novel anticipated the end of public executions; Grossman contends that forensic novels occasioned a new awareness of the courtroom as a site for relating individual, clashing stories.

Scholars such as Miller , Thomas , , and Gladfelder demonstrate how protocols of law and citizenship have intersected with novelistic prose and its representation of consciousness. Further, a narratologically informed investigation of law may alter the manner in which narrative and narrativity are understood. Narrative studies of legal discourse favor texts with overtly narrational elements such as appellate and Supreme Court opinions.

Yet the norms transported through legal narratives are disseminated through symbols and images as well as language.

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From a narratological standpoint, open questions include: how does the framing of legal narratives through interpretive schemata and generic conventions differ from that of other types of narratives? How do legal hypotheticals and possible worlds theory relate? Might narrator unreliability be better understood through recourse to assessments of witness reliability?

And will such premises change as legal systems become increasingly hybridic? Primary tabs View active tab Revisions. Greta Olson.

Differential discourse processing and discursive formation