The Jury Summation as Speech Genre

An ethnographic study of what it means to those who use it

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The American courtroom trial is a speech situation. Everything occurs through the spoken word. The 'summation', as speech event embedded within the trial, which is the chronological and psychological culmination of it, is one of the few opportunities for the lawyer to communicate directly with jurors. But the speech genre summation involves preliminaries as well as the event itself; and it can affect the aftermath of the trial, for the decisions of the jurors may be influenced by this discourse.This ethnographic study considers the summation from three perspectives: that of the producer, from the point of view of the ethnographer who observed and analyzed sixty-six actual summations and from that of the receivers of the speech event who must act upon it. Information was obtained from post-deliberation questionnaires completed by 223 jurors, plus 35 alternate jurors.

Subjects: Discourse studies; Pragmatics

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