Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Do the words you speak and write distinctly point to you as being their creator? Court battles across the country look to whether experts can accurately match words to their source just as experts match DNA samples to bodies.  Clearwater Criminal Attorneys doubt how reliable many of these experts are and how much weight should be given to their conclusions. 

forensic linguistics uses the speech and writings of a defendant to match identity in  Tampa Bay ,Florida.
Rockwell, Freedom of Speech
Yet as a law enforcement tool forensic linguistics has helped solve some high profile cases, such as the Unabomber case, even as its proven to be a failure in other cases.
In the infamous Unabomber case the bomber was subjected to a search warrant in which the FBI noted that the long-winded philosophical manifesto which he sent to news organizations taking credit for the bombings was written in the same style, manner and word quirks as a man named Ted Kaczynski who published similar rants. Sure enough incident to the executed the search warrant evidence of his guilt was found in abundance.

Of course it was Kaczynski's brother who first alerted the FBI about some of the specific language oddities allowing FBI agents to later frame the successful search warrant:
[The FBI Agent] recalls how a transposition of verbs in the manifesto written by the Unabomber helped lead to a closer identification of Ted Kaczynski in April 1996.The latter used the phrase "You can't eat your cake and have it, too," instead of the usual form, which is "You can't have your cake and eat it, too." Like most people, Mr. Fitzgerald thought Kaczynski had made a mistake. But examination of other letters by him contained a similar feature, which, Mr. Fitzgerald says, "is actually a traditionally middle English way of using the term. He technically had it right and the rest of us had it wrong. It was one of the big clues that allowed us to make the rest of the comparison and submit a report to the judge who signed off on a search warrant."
Yet in an excellent recent article called Words on Trial, the New Yorker notes a number of forensic linguistic failures by law enforcement such as the mistaken misidentification of a scientist as being behind the anthrax mail murders.  
Even in Tampa Bay Criminal Courts it's not unusual for prosecutors during closing arguments to cement a case with a showing of similar language in testimony or written documents by simply telling the Jury to use it's collective common sense. The Courts should be wary, carefully evaluating faulty forensic linguistic evidence as Clearwater Criminal Lawyers note that the typically small samples of written or spoken language supplied by a Defendant in a Pinellas criminal trial rarely accurately establish identity since most criminals do not take it upon themselves to write philosophical manifestos defending their conduct.