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In this book, Shuy explains how vague legal terminology can be clarified by analysis of the language used by suspects, defendants, law enforcement officers, and attorneys. He examines speech events, schemas, agendas, speech acts, conversational strategies, as well as smaller language units such as syntax, lexicon, and phonology, and discusses how these can play a major role in deciding murder cases. In his analysis, Shuy draws on his personal experience testifying at fifteen fascinating murder trials, focusing on the role that language played in each. He concludes with a summary of how his analyses were regarded by the juries as they struggled with the equally vague concept of reasonable doubt.
Roger W. Shuy is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University and the author of many previous books on language and law. Over the years has consulted on some 600 civil and criminal law cases and has testified at many federal, state trials as well as at the International Criminal Tribunal and before the US Congress on impeachment hearings.