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Strategies in the contest between lawyer and witness

Categoria: Referat Engleza


Strategies in the contest between lawyer and witness
The witnesses’ testimonies can either make or break the case being presented. Testimony is not the only type of evidence – documents, photographs and many other kinds of proof are equally acceptable – but it remains extremely important. It is the lawyer’s job to prove the facts of the story alleged in the complaint...

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In this paper I presented the language used in courtrooms and how lawyer’s questions can influence the witness’s answer and I also presented the legal documents which begins a trial.

In Chapter 1, I have discussed about the language of judges and lawyers and how English was introduce in courtrooms and replace French language. Current procedural law has had a long historical evolution. The early common law allowed an action to be brought only if it closely conformed to a writ . Then, the rule was “no writ, no right”, but this rule had changes over the past decades. Now, the legal documents are drafted by lawyers.

Chapter 2 is dedicated to pleadings. Pleadings are formal written documents that are filed with the court. Pleadings are public documents unless sealed by the court. The court's rules tell you what needs to be included in a pleading and how it should look. For example, each pleading has to contain the name of the court, the title of the suit, and the docket number, if one has been assigned.

A lawsuit begins when a plaintiff (the party suing) files a complaint against a defendant (the party being sued). The complaint is a written statement of the plaintiff's claim or cause of action. In it, the plaintiff states his or her version of the facts - what the defendant allegedly did -and asks for relief or damages. The answer is the defendant's written response to the complaint. In the answer, the defendant admits or denies each of the facts contained in the plaintiff's complaint and gives any reasons the plaintiff should not win. This is the procedure in civil cases. If the defendant believes that he or she is the injured party, he or she files a counterclaim and asks for damages. For example, if the plaintiff sues you for damages resulting from an automobile accident, you would file a counterclaim against the plaintiff if you think the plaintiff was the one at fault in the accident.

In Chapter 3, dedicated to examination of witness, I’ve presented the strategies used by lawyers in a trial and the types of examination. In this chapter I focused my attention on the Simpson trial because it shows how he was acquitted due to his lawyer who undermined the witnesses and most of the evidences presented in court.

The witnesses’ testimonies can either make or break the case being presented. Testimony is not the only type of evidence – documents, photographs and many other kinds of proof are equally acceptable – but it remains extremely important.  It is the lawyer’s job to prove the facts of the story alleged in the complaint. In most cases, the lawyer’s objective is to discredit opposition witnesses and minimize the impact of their testimony. There are many cases in which the defense lawyer has no prove and he must discredit the plaintiff’s witnesses through cross-examination. And it is in such contexts that lawyers make maximal use of their linguistic power accorded to them.


Chapter 1:  English in the law courts



In 1362 an important step was taken toward restoring English to its dominant place as the language of England. For a long time, probably from a date soon after the Norman Conquest, French had been the language of all legal proceedings. But in the fourteenth century such a practice was clearly without justification, and in 1356 the mayor and aldermen of London ordered that proceedings in the sheriffs’ court of London and Middlesex be in English (Shape, 1905: 73). Six years later, in the Parliament held in October 1362, the Statute of Pleading was enacted, to go into effect toward the end of the following January. The Statute of Pleading was enacted because many people involved in the judicial process didn’t understood what is said for them or against them in a trial. Therefore, this Statute was made to help people to understand the judicial system, the law and to help them to defend themselves in a trial, because not many afforded a lawyer in those times. According to this Statute of Pleading, all lawsuits shall be pleaded, shewed, defended, answered, debated, and judged in the English tongue. (Statutes of the Realm, 1, p. 375-76. The original is in French. The petition on which it was based is in Rotuli Parliamentorum, II, p. 273).

It is interesting to note that the reason frankly stated for the action is that French is much unknown in the said realm. This constitutes the official recognition of English.




Verbal interaction is the central and defining feature of human social life. Whether at home, at work, or at leisure, we spend an enormous amount of time talking to one another. The method used is straightforward: record every day conversations, transcribe them, and then dissect the transcripts in an effort to discern the resources that people employ to maintain order and coherence in social discourse. (John M. Conley and William M. O’Barr, Just Words: Law, Language and Power, 2005) The most important discovery about talk in everyday contexts is its orderly and highly structured nature. Without external supervision or any conscious awareness of how they are doing it, participants in a conversation come to instantaneous tacit agreement on such complex questions as whose turn it is to speak and how long a speaking turn should last.

Conversation analysts tell us that conversations are governed by a structure that is as fundamental to talk as are the sounds of a language and its rules for constructing meaningful expressions. This structure is the grammar of talking. We learn as children how to have orderly conversations, just as we learn to construct meaningful utterances. (John M. Conley and William M. O’Barr, Just Words: Law, Language and Power, 1998) Among other things, the grammar of conversation specifies the following:

•A person who is speaking can expect to finish a syntactically complete utterance before the issue arises of who gets to talk next. (For example, “I was getting ready to” is not syntactically complete, whereas “I was getting ready to leave” is.)

•A speaker who reaches a syntactically complete point in the utterance (or one that another speaker considers complete) must either relinquish the turn or attempt to continue speaking.

•A person who is speaking can influence who the next speaker will be. (For example, “What do you think, John?” attempts to select John to talk next, whereas “Do you know what I think?” is an attempt at self-selection.)

•When speaker overlaps do occur (usually at points when speaker change is relevant), one speaker normally continues as others drop out. The speaker who continues usually recycles what was uttered during the period of overlapping speech.

Basic structural rules such as these allow us to communicate efficiently in everyday discourse. They enable ordinary conversations to take place with an alternation of speakers and minimal gaps and overlaps, and without referees or advance plans that state who will talk, what will be said, and how long a conversation will last.

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