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ERIC Number: EJ843710
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 32
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0741-0883
The Trial of the Expert Witness: Negotiating Credibility in Child Abuse Correspondence
Schryer, Catherine F.; Afros, Elena; Mian, Marcellina; Spafford, Marlee; Lingard, Lorelei
Written Communication, v26 n3 p215-246 2009
This article reports on forensic letters written by physicians specializing in identifying children who have experienced maltreatment. These writers face an extraordinary exigence in that they must provide an opinion as to whether a child has experienced abuse without specifically diagnosing abuse and thus crossing into a legal domain. Their credibility was also at issue because, in this jurisdiction, child abuse identification was not recognized as a medical subspecialty and because the status of expert witnesses is currently being challenged. Through an analysis of 72 forensic letters combined with interview data from six letter writers and five letter readers, we determined that these writers used linguistic and rhetorical strategies that allowed these letters to function as boundary objects or objects that traverse several communities of practice. The most salient strategy was the use of evaluative lexis--adjectives and adverbs which allowed for a range of interpretations and constrained those interpretations at the same time. (Contains 3 tables and 10 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A