International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 22, No 1 (2015)

Jury Instructions in Hong Kong: A Gricean Perspective

Le Cheng, Winnie Cheng, Jian Li
Issued Date: 8 Jul 2015

Abstract


Most previous studies on jury instructions have been confined to legalese such as the lexical and syntactic features of jury instructions. This study, drawing on reported cases on jury instructions from the Hong Kong judiciary, aims to examine jury instructions in Hong Kong to better explore how jury instructions are given in Hong Kong, being a common-law jurisdiction, and to argue that Grice’s Cooperative Principle can be usefully adopted to examine jury instructions in order to shed some light on the drafting of jury instructions. The study argues that the principle of rationality, a deeper-level of observance of Gricean maxims, which underlies the Cooperative Principle, has interpretative force on jury instructions in the case of non-observance of conversational maxims, and that, in the court judgments examined, non-observance of the fundamental communicative principle usually constitutes a good ground for appeal, although the opposite is also true. It therefore provides a pertinent demonstration of the differences of the operation of Gricean maxims in lay and legal contexts.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 ) HTML (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.v22i1.15400

References


Ariel, M. (2010) Defining Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777912


Brammer, M. (1992) Case notes: Eighth amendment no longer bars victim impact statement admission in capital sentencing proceedings. Cincinnati Law Review 61: 261–295.


Brown, D. (2000) Regulating decision effects of legally sufficient jury instructions. Southern California Law Review 73(5): 1105–1131. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.246498


Brown, P. and Levinson, S. C. (1987) Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Charrow, R. P. and Charrow, V. R. (1979) Making legal language understandable: a psycholinguistic study of jury instructions. Columbia Law Review 79: 1306–1374. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1121842


Cheng, L. and Cheng, W. (2010) Language modeling for legal proof. In X. G. Jin, Y. G. Liu, T. R. Li and D. Ruan (eds) Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Systems and Knowledge Engineering 533–537. Beijing: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/iske.2010.5680745


Cotterill, J. (2010) Interpersonal issues in court: rebellion, resistance and other ways of behaving badly. In Miriam A. Locher and Sage L. Graham (eds) Interpersonal Pragmatics 353–380. Handbook of Pragmatics 6. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.


Dascal, M. and Wroblewski, J. (1991) The rational law-maker and the pragmatics of legal interpretation. Journal of Pragmatics 15: 421–444. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(91)90047-2


Davies, B. L. (2007) Grice’s Cooperative Principle: meaning and rationality. Journal of Pragmatics 39: 2308–2331. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2007.09.002


Duff, P., M. Findlay and Howarth, C. (1990) The Hong Kong Jury: A microcosm of society? International and Comparative Law Quarterly 39: 881-891. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/iclqaj/39.4.881


Elwork, A., Sales, B. D. and Alfini, J. J. (1977) Juridic decisions: in ignorance of the law or in light of it? Law and Human Behavior 1: 163–190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01053437


Elwork, A., Sales, B. D. and Alfini, J. J. (1982) Making Jury Instructions Understandable. Charlottesville, VA: Michie.


Frade, C. (2002) The legal Cooperative Principle: an essay on the cooperative nature of contractual transactions. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 15: 337–343.


Gibbons, J. (2003) Forensic Linguistics: An Introduction to Language in the Justice System. Oxford: Blackwell.


Grice, H. P. (1975) Logic and Conversation. In P. Cole and J. L. Morgan (eds) Speech Acts 41–58. New York: Academic Press.


Grice, H. P. (1989) Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Heffer, C. (2005) The Language of Jury Trial: A Corpus-Aided Analysis of Legal-Lay Discourse. New York: Macmillan. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230502888


Heffer, C. (2006) Beyond ‘reasonable doubt’: the criminal standard of proof instruction as communicative act. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law 13(2): 159–188.


Kaplan, J. P. (1998) Pragmatic contributions to the interpretation of a will. Forensic Linguistics 5(2): 107–126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/sll.1998.5.2.107


Keenan, E. (1976) The universality of conversational postulates. Language in Society 5: 67–80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500006850


Kimble, J. (2001) How to mangle court rules and jury instructions. The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 8: 39–52.


Levi, J. N. (1993) Evaluating jury comprehension of Illinois capital sentencing instructions. American Speech 6(1): 20–49. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/455834


Levinson, S. C. (1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Levy, J. H. (1993) Limiting victim impact evidence and argument after Payne v. Tennessee. Stanford Law Review 45: 1027–1060. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1229203


Linfoot-Ham, K. (2006) Conversational maxims in encounters with law enforcement officers. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law 13(1): 23–54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/sll.2006.13.1.23


Mellinkoff, D. (1963) Language of the Law. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.


Mey, J. L. (1985) Whose Language: A Study in Linguistic Pragmatics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/pbcs.3


Myers, B. and Arbuthnot, J. (1999) The effects of victim impact evidence on the verdicts and sentencing judgments of mock jurors. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 29: 95–112. http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J076v29n03_05


Penman, R. (1987) Discourse in courts: cooperation, coercion and coherence. Discourse Processes 10: 201–218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01638538709544672


Pfister, J. (2010) Is there a need for a maxim of politeness? Journal of Pragmatics 42: 1266–1282. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.09.001


Pickel, K. L. (1995) Inducing jurors to disregard inadmissible evidence: a legal explanation does not help. Law and Human Behavior 19: 407–424. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01499140


Poggi, F. (2011) Law and conversational implicatures. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 24: 21–40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11196-010-9201-x


Schane, S. (2006) Language and the Law. London: Continuum.


Schwarzer, W. W. (1981) Communicating with juries: problems and remedies. California Law Review 69: 731–740. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3480238


Shuy, Roger W. (2007) Language in the American courtroom. Language and Linguistics Compass 1: 100–114. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2007.00002.x


Solan, L. M. (1999) Refocusing the burden of proof in criminal cases: some doubt about reasonable doubt. Texas Law Review 78: 105–147.


Starr, V. H. and McCormick, M. (2011) Jury Selection (4th edn). Amsterdam: Kluwer.


Steele, W. W. and Thornburg, E. G. (1988) Jury instructions: a persistent failure to communicate. North Carolina Law Review 67: 77–119.


Stygall, G. (1994) Trial Language: Different Discourse Processing and Discursive Formation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/pbns.26


Thomas, J. (1995) Meaning in Interaction. London: Longman.


Tiersma, P. (1999) Jury instructions in the new millennium. Court Review 36: 28–36.


Tiersma, P. (2001) The rocky road to legal reform: improving the language of jury instructions. Brooklyn Law Review 66: 1081–1085.


Tiersma, P. (2006) Communicating with Juries: How to Draft More Understandable Jury Instructions. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts [originally published in The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 10: 1–54 (2005–2006)].


Walter, B. (1988) The Jury Summation as Speech Genre: An Ethnographic Study of What it Means to those Who Use it. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/pbns.1


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.





Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy