The Counsel as Narrator

  • Chris Heffer


The counsel is above all a strategist engaged in acts of persuasion: persuading the jury of the guilt or innocence of the defendant; convincing the judge of the legal admissibility or otherwise of an item of evidence; coercing the witness into answering in a certain fashion. This is the first of two chapters exploring some of the linguistic means by which barristers attempt to persuade the jury during witness examination. These means must be understood in terms of a tension between the narrative and paradigmatic modes, arising from the nature of legal-lay discourse outlined in Chapter 1. This chapter focuses on counsel’s role as narrator of the crime story. It should be clear from Chapter 3 that during the adversarial phase of the trial counsel are not simply telling stories to the jury through their witnesses. Indeed, it was argued that this phase is structured essentially according to classical rhetorical debate rather than narrative. However, storytelling has always been an essential part of the orator’s rhetorical armoury, and the Argument in this case is very much concerned with the details and definitions of a crime story. This chapter, then, considers the role of narration in counsel’s rhetorical armoury.


Polar Question Jury Trial Narrow Road Request Type Narrative Style 
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Copyright information

© Chris Heffer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Heffer
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Language and Communication ResearchCardiff UniversityUK

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