(Re) Viewing the Case

  • Chris Heffer


Narrativization, it was argued in the previous chapter, might assist judges in their role as Helper of the jury in the difficult task of comprehending legal directions. The judge might also act as Helper when reviewing the evidence in the case. Jurors claim that they have more trouble remembering the evidence in a case and in understanding difficult evidence than in understanding the judge’s legal directions (Zander and Henderson 1993: 209). The review of the evidence, then, might constitute a vital aid to the jury in deliberating on the facts. At the same time, though, it is impossible to view, or even re-view, the series of narrative events that constitute the crime and trial stories without viewing them from some particular vantage point. There is no ‘view from nowhere’ (Nagel 1986) and it is the judge’s personal slant on the case that can potentially transform him from being a Helper to an Opponent with respect to the jury’s task of arriving at a fair and unprejudiced verdict. For example, in the case of Derek Bentley, hanged in 1953 as an accomplice to the murder of a police officer, the judge suggested that police witnesses were likely to be accurate and reliable and defendants inaccurate and unreliable, thereby reinforcing common prejudice (Sanders and Young 2000: 575).


Police Officer Epistemic Possibility Rhetorical Question Jury Trial Linguistic Framework 
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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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