P.O. Box 2173
Alameda, CA 94501 USA
510-534-0614
joe@devney.com

 
Linguistic Consultant  
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Forensic Linguistics/
Language and Law
  • Did "Okay, we donít need you to do that" from a police dispatcher really mean "Donít do that"?
  • Do non-lawyers understand the law as it is explained in a particular jury instruction?
  • Can we accept at face value the teenage girl's implication of her mother in the death of the girl's baby?
  • Is it possible to ask for a ballot in someone else's name without uttering anything untrue?
  • Can an airplane crash be blamed on poorly written technical documentation?

These are all questions I have addressed regarding real-life situations, either formally through court documents (the case of the baby who died) or in papers, articles, or presentations.

Other forensic linguists have addressed a very wide variety of issues in which language and law intersect. Here is a quick (though far from exhaustive) list from the call for papers for a forensic linguistics conference:

Miranda warnings, the police caution, jury instructions, 911 calls, trademark infringement, interview and interrogation issues, the speech of asylum-seekers, language dialects, ransom notes, stalker communications, suicide notes, threat texts, plagiarism

Forensic Linguistics Conference, ASU

In addition to my training and experience in linguistics, I have been a professional technical writer for many years. In a product liability suit, the product documentation might be the allegedly defective part. I can analyze the technical documentation to determine whether it is clear and complete enough, and how it compares to similar product documentation from competitors. (That is the sort of analysis I did regarding the airplane crash.)

Please contact me:

  • If you are workin on a civil or criminal case that involves language evidence and think you could use expert linguistic analysis.
  • If you want me to speak to your group about any aspect of language and law.