Ethical Questions in Forensic Linguistics: Introduction to Papers from a Linguistic Society of America Panel Presentation, San Francisco, California, January 9, 2009
AbstractWith seemingly greater frequency, linguists today are working as consultants in “forensic” linguistics, employed by attorneys to prepare reports and testimony based on their linguistic research. Their work is generally beneficial to the side (litigant; prosecutor or defender) that employs them. Linguistic research that is conducted for purposes other than academic publishing raises a number of serious ethical issues. This introduction addresses a number of ethical questions within the framework of forensic linguistics. 1. To what extent should a scholar disclose the relationship between forensic linguistic case-driven research and later scholarly publication? 2. What are the implications of the adversarial nature of legal proceedings vis-à-vis (a) the scholar's supposed devotion to "truth" and (b) the legal requirement of telling not only the truth and nothing but the truth, but also the whole truth. 3. What are the appropriate scholarly credentials for forensic linguistic consulting? To what extent can proper credentialing be enforced? By what authority? 4. Should organizations such as the Linguistic Society of America and the International Association of Forensic Linguists take an official position on any of these issues? 5. What does an attorney expect of a linguistic expert? What sort of training would the legal profession find especially helpful?
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