Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
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A number of studies have shown how participants work to accomplish their goals in ways that minimize the possibility of acrimonious conflict. And yet acrimonious conflict does occur. This raises the issue of what circumstances and discursive moves engender acrimonious interactions and what circumstances and discursive moves avert them. We address this issue through the analysis of segments of a jury deliberation in the penalty phase of a murder trial. We followed the lead of writers who have tied the outbreak of an acrimonious interaction to the launching of a complaint that exposes a personal flaw in the target. We examine three cases where one juror made such a complaint about another. In two of those cases, an acrimonious interaction did not ensue, in the third it did. In comparing these cases, we found that much depends on whether the complainant’s wording and sequential placement of the complaint are mitigating or inflammatory, and much depends on whether the target juror resists the complaint in ways that engender acrimony or concedes and avoids engendering it.


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