INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR FORENSIC AND LEGAL LINGUISTICS

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Remembering Dr Janet Cotterill (1968–2022)

Chris Heffer, Frances Rock, Michelle Aldridge and Lise Fontaine

This tribute has also been published in the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law.

It is with great sadness, but many memories, that we write to commemorate the life and work of our colleague Dr Janet Cotterill. Her vigour and drive were illustrated by her significant achievements in her inspirational career, since Janet was instrumental in helping to shape the development of forensic linguistics as we know it. Through her writing and scholarly activities, she helped to define the foci of those who followed and, through her inspiring teaching and planning, she co-founded the first master’s level programme in forensic linguistics in the world at Cardiff University. Finally, through her compelling personality, she enthused many students and colleagues to develop their own work and lives in and around the field of language and law.

Janet’s academic career in forensic linguistics, whilst sadly cut short, was nonetheless dynamic. Having completed a BSc (hons) in modern languages (1991) at Aston University and then an MA in applied linguistics at Liverpool University (1993), she worked in translation and interpreting in France and Egypt and as an EFL teacher in Tokyo, Japan. She began reading for a PhD under Professor Malcolm Coulthard’s supervision at the University of Birmingham in 1998. Even before starting the PhD, Janet had secured a full-time lecturing post at Anglia Polytechnic University (APU, now Anglia-Ruskin University). During her doctoral studies, she would drive the two or three hours to Birmingham from Cambridge on Fridays for supervision sessions and to attend the regular forensic linguistics research group that Malcolm had set up. It was at those sessions that Frances and Chris both met her. The sessions were also attended by Tim Grant (another of Malcolm’s PhD students), Krzysztof Kredens and Sonia Russell (visiting the University), Jess Shapero and Alison Johnson (now May) (doctoral contemporaries) and Sue Blackwell (then a member of staff at Birmingham) among others. Often Malcolm would bring a ‘live’ spoken or written forensic text to analyse and we were always struck by the speed and acuity of Janet’s forensic observations.

Unlike most PhD students in the UK, Janet flew through her degree, despite simultaneously holding down the full-time lectureship and undertaking extensive exam board marking in Cambridge. She also assumed a lot of ‘voluntary’ work at that time. With Chris and Frances, she initiated and organised a PhD conference each summer and served as an integral part of Malcolm’s organisation team when he hosted the 4th Conference of the (then) International Association of Forensic Linguistics at the University of Birmingham in 1999. She also contributed to the operation of the Conference of the International Association of Dialogue

Analysis in 1999 at Birmingham and ran the British Association of Applied Linguistics’ 33rd Annual Conference in 2000 at APU. She co-edited substantial collections of works arising from the latter two events (Coulthard, Cotterill and Rock 2000; Ife and Cotterill 2001). Janet passed her PhD with flying colours in 2002 and published her thesis on language in the OJ Simpson criminal trial as her influential Language and Power in Court: A Linguistic Analysis of the O.J. Simpson Trial the following year.

By 1999, Janet had secured a post as Lecturer at Cardiff University, and she would rise quickly through the ranks to Senior Lecturer in 2004, then Reader only two years later. In 2002, she had already established the world’s first MA in Forensic Linguistics (now in its 20th year) which she taught with Michelle Aldridge when she joined Cardiff in 2003. Early students on the course who were inspired by Janet include Nicci MacLeod (now at Aston), Samuel Larner (now at Manchester Metropolitan University), Rui Sousa-Silva (now at the University of Porto) and Mark Griffiths (now at Cardiff University). Several of Janet’s ex-MA and PhD students have since gone on to work directly in the legal system, including Marisa Jenkins and Silke Boak (nee Kirschner). Mark recalls Janet’s ‘insight, vision, creativity and determination’ which converted her first MA students into her early doctoral supervisees. These qualities were, Mark recalls, ‘a huge influence on the academic, professional and social direction of my life and many others, not least in injecting some self-belief into us and opening a fascinating field of study and work’. With Malcolm Coulthard, she provided Summer Schools in forensic linguistics at the University of Birmingham (from 2000). Janet organised a conference on Forensic Linguistics/Language and Law in 2004 at the beautiful Gregynog Hall in mid-Wales. Following the success of that ‘dry run’, Janet successfully bid for and organised the impressive 7th IAFL Conference at Cardiff University in 2005. She also managed to convince her academic school to take on another forensic linguist. Both Chris and Frances applied for the post and such was the enthusiasm that Janet had created around forensic linguistics that the school was persuaded to take on both of us. Unfortunately, almost immediately after this expansion, in late 2005, Janet was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The vigour and drive mentioned at the beginning of this piece were again illustrated by her response, her consultant noting that he ‘never had a more determined patient’. Whilst Janet remained supportive of forensic linguistics at Cardiff, her presence on campus gradually grew more infrequent as her condition worsened. However, she remained active within the forensic linguistics community for some years more, attending conferences, in Sfax, Tunisia, for example, giving a presentation to colleagues in Cardiff in November 2014, only formally retiring from Cardiff in November 2017.

Janet was a major influence on the International Association of Forensic Linguistics (now IAFLL) and she was President of the Association in 2007–9. During her tenure she strove to broaden the reach of the Association by increasing involvement from colleagues in mainland Europe. She also guest edited issue 7(1) of the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law in 2000 and was an editor of that publication from 2002 to 2006, a crucial time in the journal’s history. She was a member of the editorial board for the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. In 2004, Janet guest edited volume 25, issue 4, of Applied Linguistics, presenting a collection of papers on forensic linguistics to a wider audience. Her editing work extended to books too. In 2002, she edited the discipline-shaping collection Language in the Legal Process, whilst 2007 saw the publication of a further timely and influential collection, The Language of Sexual Crime. She was on the Editorial Board of the Oxford University Press monograph series Oxford Studies in Language and Law.

Janet undertook case work alone and with colleagues at a time when linguistics was still very much finding its way into legal proceedings. This work was broad in its coverage and pioneering in its focus, taking in topics as diverse as terrorism risk assessment and authorship analysis.

Janet was extremely productive in terms of publications, and she distinguished herself particularly in the areas of trial language (e.g. Cotterill 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007b), rights communication (Cotterill 2000), language and sexual violence (Cotterill 2007a) and media (Cotterill 2011), judicial and lay representations in relation to language and law. She published several of her PhD chapters while still a university student (e.g. Cotterill 1998). She was a pioneer in research on trial communication, combining close forensic analysis with a critical approach to discourse analysis. She also drew on, and contributed to, scholarship in corpus linguistics, systemic functional linguistics and language and gender. Her research focused on a wide range of discursive phenomena including metaphor, intertextuality, semantic prosody, collocation, vagueness, representation, resistance, power and persuasion. Even after she had become unwell, she continued to write and her work earned her an entry, written by Ria Perkins, in the Encyclopaedia of Applied Linguistics. It is telling that her work continues to be widely cited today.

Those who remember Janet personally will likely think of her intense and sometimes complicated presence, charisma, ambition and compelling enthusiasm. Chris recalls her drafting papers with astonishing speed, sometimes in a single sitting, whilst Frances remembers being amazed that she reported doing this in front of her favourite soap opera! She built networks and made powerful connections and her quick mind and sense of humour were memorable. Those who have recalled Janet remarked ‘I looked up to Janet and her fierce intellect and sharp mind’ and ‘she had many very wonderful qualities’. She enjoyed both ‘gadding about’, as co-editor of the IJSLL, Peter French, fondly reminisced, and getting things done. She is also remembered for revelling in her multilingualism: she spoke French and her CV also records German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese as at her disposal. Her abilities in darts and knock-about tennis have been fondly recalled! Her great love, however, was her scholarly activities. Writing in 2012, she told colleagues that the thought of resuming her work with them was ‘sustaining’, concluding, characteristically: ‘I will do everything I possibly can to be back with you all’. This promise lives on in her publications and legacy.

 

References

Cotterill, J. (1998) ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’: metaphor and the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. Forensic Linguistics 5(2): 151–158. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v5i2.141

Cotterill, J. (2000) Reading the rights: a cautionary tale of comprehension and comprehensibility. Forensic Linguistics 7(1): 4–25. https://doi.org/10.1558/sll.2000.7.1.4

Cotterill, J. (2002) Language in the Legal Process. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cotterill, J. (2003) Language and Power in Court: A Linguistic Analysis of the OJ Simpson Trial. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cotterill, J. (2004) Collocation, connotation and courtroom semantics: lawyers’ control of witness testimony through lexical negotiation. Applied Linguistics,25(4): 513–537.

https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/25.4.513

Cotterill, J. (2005) ‘You do not have to say anything…’: instructing the jury on the defendant’s right to silence in the English criminal justice system. Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication 24(1/2): 7–24.

Cotterill, J. (2007a) The Language of Sexual Crime. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cotterill, J. (2007b) ‘I think he was kind of shouting or something’: uses and abuses of vagueness in the British courtroom. In J. Cutting (ed.) Vague Language Explored 97–114. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cotterill, J. (2011) Mugshots and motherhood: the media semiotics of vilification in child abduction cases. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law/Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique 23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11196-010-9199-0

Coulthard, M., Cotterill, J. and Rock, F. (2000) Dialogue Analysis VII: Working with Dialogue. Berlin: Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Ife, A. and Cotterill, J. (2001) Languages across Boundaries. Oxford: Bloomsbury.

Perkins, R. (2012) Janet Cotterill. In Carol A. Chapelle (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

 

Conferences, Latest News

Reflection on the 4th European Conference of the IAFLL

A big thank you to Dakota Wing for offering these reflections the 4th European Conference of the IAFLL, Porto 18-21 July 2022.

On July 18-21, 2022 the 4th European Conference of the IAFLL was hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Porto, in Porto, Portugal. As the first IAFLL in-person event since 2019, the conference attracted delegates from around the world, and indeed, it was an exciting time to reunite with the IAFLL community face-to-face. The conference consisted of a pre-conference workshop on Aston’s FoLD, a presidential address by IAFLL President Dr. Isabel Picornell, plenaries by  Professor Janet Ainsworth, Professor Karen McAuliffe, Professor Luísa Neto, Professor Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira, and Professor Malcolm Coulthard, 22 parallel sessions with talks on a wide array of forensic and legal linguistic topics, a poster session, various social events, delicious food and drinks, and of course, a wonderful group of forensic and legal linguists!

The conference theme focused on rigour and transparency in forensic linguistics, and this was apparent across the various conference activities. For example, Dr. Picornell’s presidential address highlighted the role that we, as forensic linguists consulting on cases, have in explaining our methods and findings not only to triers of fact, but also to lawyers who engage our services as it is the lawyers who are initially responsible for disclosing experts and contextualizing our research question(s) and findings as relevant to the case at hand. This insight is important for (at least) two reasons: First, it speaks to the importance of sharing experiences of being a practicing forensic linguist and being transparent in these experiences for others to learn from. Many other talks (e.g., Professor Coulthard’s plenary and the session titled ‘forensic linguistics casework’) also discussed experiences of consulting forensic linguists. I find that in sharing such experiences, it allows us to think about how methods are applied and what types of research questions we can ask (and try to answer), and it helps identify research gaps. That is, in being transparent in our experiences, it helps improve the rigour of our methods and approaches. It also fosters a mentorship-like environment in which students, emerging scholars, and early-career forensic linguistic practitioners can learn first-hand about the realities of expert consulting. Often, consulting experts (especially those who have been foundational in developing the field into what it is today) begin consulting without training in being an expert witness, so to be able to learn from these experiences is not only a privilege but should also be encouraged to help further advance the field (also see the expert witness training supported by the IAFLL).

Second, Dr. Picornell’s talk reminds us to thoroughly consider the (often multiple and variable) audiences who we are presenting our analyses to. Unfortunately, as much as I like to think that everyone should be as excited about forensic linguistics as I am, not everyone is. Who we’re communicating our findings to, and how, is something that I considered as I attended other talks throughout the next three days of conference activities. It became clear that without being transparent in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it, the end result (our findings) may have little impact on the audience (likewise, as Professor Neto also pointed out, a lack of transparency may obscure access to justice). Thankfully, this conference was definitely impactful! Despite attending talks that I have little background knowledge of, I was constantly impressed at how accessible presenters made their talks (Exhibit A: Dr. Ainsworth made defamation law incredibly entertaining!). This ensured that findings were accurately conveyed and allowed for meaningful discussions from individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives. Being able to have such engaging discussions aids in providing presenters with valuable feedback (which was especially beneficial for me as I was presenting preliminary findings from my dissertation) and, as I witnessed on multiple occasions, creates opportunities for future collaborations. This was enhanced by the friendly and respectful environment created by the conference organizers (and the vinho verde probably helped) that fostered a community of scholars with a shared goal of advancing the field of forensic and legal linguistics.

The commitment to the advancement of the field was apparent in the diversity of the research presented at the conference. Presenters were from around the world, discussing legal contexts and data from varying cultures and languages, and applying a variety of theories and methodologies (actually, Professor McAuliffe’s plenary alone addressed all of this!). Despite these apparent differences, the conference was cohesive and emphasized the multidisciplinary nature of the field, which facilitated discussions with insightful parallels within and across sessions (no doubt thanks to the organizing committee’s thoughtful planning and organizing). Talks were aimed at both improving existing methods and our understanding of (socio)linguistic theories and applying various methods and theories to forensic and legal data. I had the opportunity to attend talks in topics relating to police discourse, authorship analysis, language crimes, suicide notes, and forensic linguistic casework. One session, on ‘Ethics, Standards and Practice’ was particularly interesting as the talks drew specific attention to problems in the field and made me reflect critically about my own work. Thinking of the future, I hope the IAFLL community considers the topics (and proposed suggestions) highlighted in these talks and the subsequent discussions. I also look forward to reading publications (in reputable journals that Professor Dinis-Oliveira would approve of) of the important work I got to observe, and of the talks that I missed that occurred during parallel sessions.

As a student and emerging scholar, presenting at this conference, hearing about innovative research, engaging in thought-provoking discussions, and meeting old and new friends was truly a valuable experience. A big Thank You to Dr. Rui Sousa-Silva, the organizing committee, and the volunteers who clearly worked long and hard to make this (long anticipated) conference the success it was. And also, a thank you to the IAFLL Executive, the plenary speakers, the session chairs, the sponsors, the presenters, and all the attendees for contributing to what was a fantastic conference. I’m pleased to say, in full transparency and with extreme rigour, that I had a great time and can’t wait for the 16th Biennial Conference of the IAFLL at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines!

Latest News, Training

Reminder – Courtroom Skills – Expert Witness Training for IAFLL Members, 3-4th October 2022

IAFLL are offering members discounted access to expert witness training delivered by Bond Solon, a leading provider of expert witness training in the UK. These virtual training courses are held on Zoom, and the cost to IAFLL members represents a saving of nearly £200.00 on Bond Solon’s normal price for public courses.

By way of introduction to Bond Solon and their approach, you can watch a short video they have produced on ‘Becoming an Expert Witness.’ It is presented by one of their barrister trainers and explores (amongst other topics): duties and responsibilities of an expert, when is it appropriate for one to become an expert, and how does one find work in this area.

The ‘Courtroom Skills’ training is running on 3rd and 4th October 2022. The details of the course are below:

 

Courtroom Skills

The course covers two half days:

  • 03 October 2022 9.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)
  • 04 October 2022 09.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)

£240 pp. maximum 16 delegates of which only 8 will be cross-examined.

However, the other delegates will benefit from observing the cross-examination and feedback of others.

The Witness Box is a lonely place. Many expert witnesses feel they are on trial, standing in the dock instead of giving independent testimony to assist the court. Often, experts are unfamiliar with the environment as few cases go to the full trial. But a poor performance can undermine confidence and credibility.

This course will provide expert witnesses with the core skills to effectively present opinion-based-evidence in court under cross-examination. It is an intensive and highly practical training day. First, we examine the theory, practice and procedure of giving evidence, demystifying the process. Then you are cross-examined on a case study that you prepare in your field of expertise. A professional trainer, who is an experienced lawyer, gives constructive feedback on your witness box presentation.

Key Learning Points

  • Understanding your role as an independent educator of the court
  • Identifying key skills of presenting effective evidence in-person or remotely
  • Determining techniques lawyers use in cross-examination and how to handle them, including how this may differ with remote hearings.
  • Expressing an opinion based on the foundation of fact.
  • Learning how to give confident, clear testimony under cross-examination in-person or remotel

 

To book your place on the course, click here.

 

IAFLL Executive Committee

 

Conferences, Latest News

Call for Papers: IAFLL16 – 16th Conference of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics

The 16th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics (IAFLL) will be hosted by the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the Philippines. With the theme Forensic Linguistics: Strengthening Foundations, Rethinking Paradigms, and Navigating New Horizons, IAFLL 16 aims to engage the participants in the discussion on the groundwork, current trends and issues, and prospects in Forensic Linguistics and will be held from July 4-6, 2023.

We welcome proposals for individual papers and poster presentations dealing with forensic linguistics/language and the law including, but not limited to:

Legal languages:

  • The history of legal languages
  • The role of literacy in legal languages
  • Legal genres
  • Critical approaches to legal languages
  • Language education for law professionals

Legal discourse:

  • Courtroom, police and prison discourse
  • Investigative interviewing
  • Multilingual matters in legal contexts
  • Power and the law
  • The comprehensibility of legal documents
  • Interviews with vulnerable witnesses in the legal system

Language minorities and the legal system:

  • Linguistic disadvantage before the law
  • Courtroom interpreting and translation
  • Human Rights matters

Law on language:

  • Language policy and linguistic rights
  • Offensive language and hate speech
  • The linguist as expert witness

Linguistic evidence and investigative linguistics:

  • Forensic phonetics and speaker identification
  • Forensic stylistics
  • Linguistic determination of nationality
  • Authorship analysis
  • Plagiarism detection and analysis
  • Trademark disputes
  • Consumer product warnings
  • Deception and fraud

Other Related Sub-Themes:

  • Computational forensic linguistics
  • Cybercrime
  • Online identities and interactive multimodal communication
  • Multimodal approaches to forensic linguistics
  • Intercultural mediation
  • Comparative law
  • Forensic communication
  • Ethics and deontology in Forensic Linguistics

Abstracts of no more than 500 words, including references, should be sent via https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=iafll16 by November 15, 2022. Please note that there is no need to upload a full paper.

Website: https://iafll16.wordpress.com

Venue: The conference will be held live at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the Philippines, via a fully online format, or a combination of the two – a hybrid format.

Plenary speakers:

  • Prof. Tim Grant – UK
  • Dr. Isabel Picornell – UK
  • Dr. Jennifer Glougie – Canada
  • Prof. Nathalie Schilling – USA
  • Dr. Richard Powell – Japan
  • Dr. Susanto – Indonesia

Themed Panel Presentations (1st day)

Transdisciplinary Approach to Forensic Linguistics:

  • Linguistics, Law and Architecture: Dr. Marilu R. Madrunio (University of Santo Tomas, Manila, the Philippines)
  • Linguistics, Law and Data Science: Atty. Senando Angelo Santiago (University of the Philippines, Quezon City, the Philippines)
  • Linguistics, Law and Anthropology: Dr. Laura Smith-Khan (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)

*NB Another themed panel may be created for the 2nd day.

Any questions can be directed to the organising team at iafll16ph@gmail.com.

Conferences, Latest News

IAFLL Porto 2022 – Student bursary winners

IAFLL Porto 2022 – Student Bursary winners

The IAFLL Executive Committee would like to send its congratulations to the five recipients of the bursaries for the 4th European Conference of the IAFLL in Porto. Each winner will be awarded up to €400 to cover expenses to attend the conference. The winners, their affiliations and the titles of the their talks are:

 

  • Cheima Bouchrara (University of Surrey, UK)
    “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury”: Uncovering discursive and linguistic patterns in closing arguments in US criminal trials
  • Natalie Jones (University of Leeds, UK)
    Representing realities in Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial: Prosecution and defence strategies in opening speeches
  • Andriana Maria Korasidi (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) (with George Mikros)
    Where Edges meet: Identifying ideological and emotional commonalities in far-left and far-right terrorist Greek groups based on a corpus-driven analysis
  • Oluwole Sanni (University of Warsaw, Poland)
    Discourse Strategies and Positioning Moves in Selected African Suicide Notes
  • Dakota Wing (York University, Canada)
    From opinion to fact: ‘Beliefs’ and subjective descriptors in Canadian police reports

 

On behalf of the IAFLL Executive Committee

David Wright, Communications Officer

Conferences, Latest News

IAFLL Porto 2022 – Student Bursaries

IAFLL Porto 2022 – Student Bursaries

A reminder that the IAFLL will award five bursaries to students whose abstracts were accepted for presentation at the 4th European Conference of the IAFLL in Porto, July 2022. Each bursary will be funded up to 400 Euros. Applicants should email the IAFLL Secretary, Dr Nicci MacLeod: n.macleod5@aston.ac.uk, with their name and affiliation, proof of their student status and a brief statement (up to 250 words) explaining why their application is worth being funded. Please DO NOT attach a copy of the abstract or the title of your presentation at this stage. The deadline to apply for a student bursary is 23rd May 2022, and winners will be notified by the 30th May in time to register at the Early Bird rate.

On behalf of the IAFLL Executive Committee

David Wright, Communications Officer

Latest News, News briefing

IAFLL News Briefing – April 2022

IAFLL News Briefing – April 2022

Hello to members of our community.

The first job of this briefing is to repeat IAFLL’s strong condemnation of Russia’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine and to reiterate our support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people. In March the Association published its official statement on the war, which can be found here.

January saw the sad passing of Janet Cotterill. Janet is a former president of IAFLL (2007-2009) and an important part of a generation of forensic linguists who paved the way for the future of the field.  Janet’s work has left an indelible mark on our discipline, and her research on the language of sexual crime, courtroom discourse and the O.J. Simpson trial are seminal contributions to forensic linguistics. She will be greatly missed by our community.

Elsewhere, in January it was announced that the 16th Biennial IAFLL conference will be hosted by the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines between 4-6 July 2023. The conference is being planned as an in-person event. However, the hosts are preparing an alternative online/hybrid version as a COVID contingency. The IAFLL Executive Committee are extremely excited to have the conference take place in the Philippines and the new presenters and audiences this will bring.

Before that, we have the 4th European Conference of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics (IAFLL) taking place in Porto from 18-21 July 2022. The theme of the conference is ‘Rigour and Transparency in Forensic Linguistics’. The deadline for the second call for abstracts was in March and those abstracts are in the process of being reviewed, with decisions in due course. This conference will be the first face-to-face meeting of the IAFLL since July 2019 in Melbourne, and we are looking forward to a fantastic occasion, seeing each other again and meeting new members for the first time.

We recently announced that IAFLL are offering members discounted access to expert witness online training delivered by Bond Solon, a leading provider of expert witness training in the UK. There are training courses available in ‘Excellence in Report Writing’ and ‘Courtroom Skills’. Each course covers two consecutive half days at times that try to accommodate different time zones and allow members from around the world to take part:

  • Excellence in Report Writing – 21 & 22 June, 9.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)
  • Courtroom Skills – 03 & 04 October, 9.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)

Although some information will be specific to the UK, training will focus on jurisdiction-neutral best practice, making these sessions beneficial to practitioners across the world. For more information about the training, please see here.

This is also a reminder of some of the various events and publications that will be relevant to our membership. The Aston Institute for Forensic Linguists continues to host their weekly online research seminar series on Thursdays. In addition, the Institute is hosting a Forensic Data Science workshop on 5 July and its AIFL Showcase Symposium on 6 July. For details on these events, visit the Institute’s webpages. The Germanic Society for Forensic Linguistics (GSFL) also hosts a regular online seminar series. To keep up to date with announcements on the series, follow the GSFL on Twitter. In terms of journals, Language and Law / Linguagem e Direito have recently announced a call for papers for a special issue on ‘Law-in-(inter)action: communicative practices in legal settings’ and you can see the announcement here. Finally, recently a new forensic linguistics journal has been launched – Journal of Indonesian Community for Forensic Linguistics, for which a number of IAFLL members are on the Editorial Board.

We really want to hear forensic linguistic related news from our members across the world on events, publications or other activities and developments. If you are an IAFLL member and have some news you would like to have included in these News Briefings and/or shared on the IAFLL website, please email David Wright at communications@iafl.org.

On behalf of the IAFLL Executive Committee

David Wright, Communications Officer

Latest News

Virtual Expert Witness Training for IAFLL Members

IAFLL are offering members discounted access to expert witness training delivered by Bond Solon, a leading provider of expert witness training in the UK. These virtual training courses are held on Zoom, and the cost to IAFLL members represents a saving of nearly £200.00 on Bond Solon’s normal price for public courses.

Three different courses are available: ‘Excellence in Report Writing’, ‘Courtroom Skills’ and ‘Cross- Examination Day’. Although some information will be specific to the UK, training will focus on jurisdiction-neutral best practice, suitable for IAFLL members anywhere in the World.

By way of introduction to Bond Solon and their approach, you can watch a short video they have produced on ‘Becoming an Expert Witness.’ It is presented by one of their barrister trainers and explores (amongst other topics): duties and responsibilities of an expert, when is it appropriate for one to become an expert, and how does one find work in this area.

Details of each of the courses and how to sign up are below.

Excellence in Report Writing

The course covers two half days:

  • 21 June 2022 9.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)
  • 22 June 2022 09.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)

£240 pp. maximum 16 delegates

An expert witness’s report is a vital element in litigation. It must be clear, succinct, independent, and well presented.

This course explores what lawyers and the courts expect and require from expert witness reports and provides expert witnesses with the key skills to produce court compliant reports. Experts will learn how to produce quickly and consistently reports that are both court compliant and will withstand cross-examination.

Key Learning Points

  • Identifying the issues to be addressed in your report
  • Using a structured approach to preparation and writing
  • Expressing an independent view and arguing your conclusion
  • Handling supporting information
  • Developing an objective and critical eye in relation to your report
  • Insulating your report against cross-examination

Courtroom Skills

The course covers two half days:

  • 03 October 2022 9.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)
  • 04 October 2022 09.30am – 12.45pm (UK time)

£240 pp. maximum 16 delegates of which only 8 will be cross-examined.

However, the other delegates will benefit from observing the cross-examination and feedback of others.

The Witness Box is a lonely place. Many expert witnesses feel they are on trial, standing in the dock instead of giving independent testimony to assist the court. Often, experts are unfamiliar with the environment as few cases go to the full trial. But a poor performance can undermine confidence and credibility.

This course will provide expert witnesses with the core skills to effectively present opinion-based-evidence in court under cross-examination. It is an intensive and highly practical training day. First, we examine the theory, practice and procedure of giving evidence, demystifying the process. Then you are cross-examined on a case study that you prepare in your field of expertise. A professional trainer, who is an experienced lawyer, gives constructive feedback on your witness box presentation.

Key Learning Points

  • Understanding your role as an independent educator of the court
  • Identifying key skills of presenting effective evidence in-person or remotely
  • Determining techniques lawyers use in cross-examination and how to handle them, including how this may differ with remote hearings.
  • Expressing an opinion based on the foundation of fact.
  • Learning how to give confident, clear testimony under cross-examination in-person or remotely

Cross-Examination Day

(**Potential Additional Course – This course will be provided if sufficient interest is expressed**)

A follow on to the Excellence in Report Writing and Courtroom Skills Training, this intensive cross-examination training helps you as an expert to refine and enhance your performance, and to gain mastery of your presentation.

You will be expected to write a full report based on what you have learned from the Excellence in report Writing course and submit it. You will then be cross-examined on your completed report, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The second cross-examination is recorded.

Key Learning Points

  • Dealing with in-depth cross examination on a full report.
  • Making full use of supporting documents, plans, photographs etc.
  • Getting to the essence of a complex case and communicating clearly with the judge.
  • Handling difficult cross-examination techniques confidently.

 

To book your place on one or more of these courses, click here.

 

IAFLL Executive Committee

 

Latest News

IAFLL statement on Ukraine

The Executive Committee of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics strongly condemns President Putin’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Despite international pleas for Russia to cease their hostilities, Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment and shelling of Ukraine continues to cause loss of innocent lives and the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and raise our voice as a part of the international chorus of condemnation of this invasion and urge its immediate end.

As an organization specifically dedicated to the centrality of language to justice, we further deplore the Russian government’s recent enactment of a law that provides prison sentences for up to 15 years simply for speaking or writing anything that contradicts the Russian government’s official version of events in Ukraine. To silence the voices of the Russian people in whose name this invasion is ostensibly being carried out is yet another violation by the Russian government of basic principles of human rights.

Watching the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people under this invasion, we may feel helpless to do something. But this is not so. We can join the international community in speaking out forcefully to add our voices to the chorus of protest.  We also can take individual and collective action to address the suffering of the population of Ukraine, both within their nation and in countries that have welcomed refugees from the invasion. At the bottom of this statement, we have provided links to international organizations with longstanding records of successfully delivering humanitarian aid to those affected by or fleeing from war, violence, and natural disasters. They are all currently delivering medical aid, food, and emergency shelter to Ukrainian victims of this invasion both within Ukraine’s borders and to those sheltering as refugees in neighboring states. Tragically, war and violence throughout the world have created the largest number of displaced persons and refugees in human history—now over 80 million people. Contributing to these international organizations that provide desperately needed relief to victims of war, violence, and environmental catastrophe around the world is one concrete act that we can take to relieve the suffering both of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and to our brothers and sisters worldwide.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (coordinating efforts of national Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters to provide refugee relief)

UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund, targeting relief to children impacted by war, displacement, and violence)

Doctors without Borders (providing direct medical care and medical relief supplies)

The International Rescue Committee (providing refugee aid and support)

CARE (providing resources for emergency food, medical care, and shelter in more than 100 countries)

All of these agencies are highly rated by Charity Navigator which assesses charities for transparency, logistical effectiveness, and in ensuring that the highest possible amount from donations go directly to help those in need.

We join in solidarity with those worldwide urging an immediate end to the bloodshed and destruction in Ukraine and to the promotion of peace and stability throughout the world.

IAFLL Executive Committee

Conferences, Latest News

2nd Call for Papers: 4th European Conference of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics – Porto, Portugal, July 18-21, 2022

2nd Call for Papers – deadline: 12 March 2022

The University of Porto, in Portugal, will host the 4th European Conference of the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics (IAFLL) on the theme of ‘Rigour and Transparency in Forensic Linguistics’. The conference, which is organised by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, aims to engage the participants in the debate of rigour and transparency in Forensic Linguistics, and will be held from 18 to 21 July 2022.


SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Abstract submissions are invited for INDIVIDUAL PAPERS, POSTERS and COLLOQUIA, in English or in Portuguese. All papers must be original and not simultaneously submitted to another journal or conference.

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INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Individual papers are invited for presentations of 20 minutes, with a further 10 minutes for questions. Abstracts of no more than 300 words, including references, should be sent via the submissions page (https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=iafllporto2022) by 12 March 2022. Please do not include your name, affiliation and email address in the abstract itself.  Acceptance of proposals may be limited to one paper per presenter if more than one proposal is submitted by the same author(s). Notifications of acceptance will be communicated by 7 April 2022

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POSTERS: Proposals for posters of no more than 300 words, including references, should be sent via the submissions page (https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=iafllporto2022) by 12 March 2022. Posters, which will be on display during the conference, should be of A0 size (841mm x 1189mm) in portrait orientation. Notifications of acceptance will be communicated by 31 March 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be communicated by 7 April 2022.

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Submissions are invited for work dealing with forensic linguistics / language and the law including, but not limited to:

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Legal Languages:

  • The history of legal languages
  • The role of literacy in legal languages
  • Legal genres
  • Critical approaches to legal languages
  • Language education for law professionals

Legal Discourse:

  • Courtroom, police and prison discourse
  • Investigative interviewing
  • Multilingual matters in legal contexts
  • Power and the law
  • The comprehensibility of legal documents
  • Interviews with vulnerable witnesses in the legal system

Language minorities and the legal system:

  • Linguistic disadvantage before the law
  • Courtroom interpreting and translation
  • Human Rights matters

Law on language:

  • Language policy and linguistic rights
  • Offensive language and hate speech
  • The linguist as expert witness

Linguistic evidence and investigative linguistics:

  • Forensic phonetics and speaker identification
  • Forensic stylistics
  • Linguistic determination of nationality
  • Authorship analysis
  • Plagiarism detection and analysis
  • Trademark disputes
  • Consumer product warnings
  • Deception and fraud

Other Related Sub-Themes:

  • Computational Forensic Linguistics
  • Cybercrime
  • Online identities and interactive multimodal communication
  • Multimodal approaches to forensic linguistics
  • Intercultural mediation
  • Comparative law
  • Forensic communication
  • Ethics and deontology in Forensic Linguistics

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Official language: The official language of the conference is English. However, there will be a special track in Portuguese. To participate in this special track, please submit your abstract in Portuguese.

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Venue: The conference will be held in Porto (Portugal), at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto. The Organising Committee is planning a live event so at this moment online attendance is not planned.

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COVID-19: The Conference, considering the state of the pandemic in Portugal at the moment, will be hosted live. No hybrid/online alternatives are planned at this stage, so only live attendance will be allowed. We may need to limit the number of participants if the context of the pandemic so requires.

Keynote speakers will be announced soon.

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Contact: All questions about submissions should be emailed to forensic.linguistics@letras.up.pt.