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Interpersonality in Legal Genres

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Edited By Ruth Breeze, Maurizio Gotti and Carmen Sancho Guinda

Few concepts in Discourse Studies are so versatile and intricate and have been so frequently contested as interpersonality. This construct offers ample terrain for new research, since it can be viewed using a range of diverse theoretical frameworks, employing a variety of analytical tools and social perspectives.
Studies on the relationship between writer/reader and speaker/audience in the legal field are still scarce, dispersed, and limited to a narrow range of genres and a restricted notion of interpersonality, since they are most often confined to modality and the Gricean cooperative principles.
This volume is meant to help bridge this gap. Its chapters show the realisation and distribution of interpersonal features in specific legal genres. The aim is to achieve an expansion of the concept of interpersonality, which besides modality, Grice’s maxims and other traditionally interpersonal features, might comprise or relate to ideational and textual issues like narrative disclosure, typography, rhetorical variation, or Plain English, among others.
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The Realization of Interpersonality Features in Jury Instructions

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A jury trial is intrinsically based on the interaction between participants displaying different levels of knowledge and expertise in relation to legal issues. Indeed, crucial to the idea of having lay jurors as triers of fact is the presupposition that a cross-societal representation of citizens will make a just decision, based on the application of the law which is given to them and drawing on the concept of collective wisdom.

In light of the concept of knowledge asymmetry in jury communication (cf. Anesa 2012, Anesa/Kastberg 2012), this chapter aims to reach a better understanding of the dynamics underlying the interaction between experts and laypeople in a specific part of a jury trial, namely the jury instruction phase. More specifically, the case analyzed here is the US civil trial by jury between the SCO Group, Inc. and Novell, Inc. (Case No. 2:04-CV-139TS). Drawing on authentic data, I will analyse jury instructions in order to observe the emergence of interpersonality features in the interaction between the judge and the jurors involved, focusing on different levels of analysis (pragmatic, textual, syntactic and lexical).

After a brief presentation of the role played by jury trials within the American legal system, I will discuss the functions of jury instructions by describing, in particular, their pragmatic aspects. The following section will focus on the concept of interpersonality in legal discourse, while the analytical part will observe instances of interpersonality as well as impersonality features in pre-instructions and final instructions....

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