The Language of Murder Cases: Intentionality, Predisposition, and Voluntariness

ISBN : 9780199354832

Roger W. Shuy
288 ページ
148 x 217 mm

The Language of Murder Cases describes fifteen court cases for which Roger Shuy served as an expert language witness, and explains the issues at stake in those cases for lawyers and linguists. Investigations and trials in murder cases are guided by the important legal terms describing the mental states of defendants-their intentionality, predisposition, and voluntariness. Unfortunately, statutes and dictionaries can provide only loose definitions of these terms, largely because mental states are virtually impossible to define. Their meaning, therefore, must be adduced either by inferences and assumptions, or by any available language evidence-which is often the best window into a speaker's mind. Fortunately, this window of evidence exists primarily in electronically recorded undercover conversations, police interviews, and legal hearings and trials, all of which are subject to linguistic analysis during trial. This book examines how vague legal terminology can be clarified by analysis of the language used by suspects, defendants, law enforcement officers, and attorneys. Shuy examines speech events, schemas, agendas, speech acts, conversational strategies, and smaller language units such as syntax, lexicon, and phonology, and discusses how these examinations can play a major role in deciding murder cases. After defining key terms common in murder investigations, Shuy describes fifteen fascinating cases, analyzing 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.


1 Introduction
2 Murder laws and terminology
3 Analyzing murder law terminology and evidence
4 Linguistic profiling when there is no known murder suspect
The Unabomber Case
Gary Indiana women's medical clinic
5 Intentionality and predisposition in murder cases
The State of Texas v. T. Cullen Davis
The Crown v. Mohammed Arshad
The State of Washington v. Michael Mockovac
6 Voluntariness in murder cases
7 Voluntariness of mentally incapacitated suspects capacity
The State of Florida v. Jerry Townsend
The State of Michigan v. Benjamin Hauswirth
The State of Alaska v. Larry Gentry
8 Voluntariness of suspects impaired by alcohol or drugs
The State of Nevada v. Shelli Dewey
The State of Florida v. Robert Alben
The State of Ohio v. Charles Lorraine
9 Voluntariness of juvenile suspects
The State of Louisiana v. Michael Carter
The State of Texas v. Kevin Rogers
10 Voluntariness of emotionally distraught suspects
The State of Okahama v. Stephen Allen
Commonwealth of Virginia v. Beverly Monroe
11 Reasonable doubt in murder cases
Cases cited


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.