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Confronting the Death PenaltyHow Language Influences Jurors in Capital Cases$
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Robin Conley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199334162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199334162.001.0001

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Facing Death

Facing Death

Empathy, Emotion, and Embodied Actions in Jurors’ Decisions

Chapter:
(p.82) 4 Facing Death
Source:
Confronting the Death Penalty
Author(s):

Robin Conley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199334162.003.0004

Chapter 4 treats the trial as an intersubjective, multimodal encounter, in which the positioning and movements of bodies are centrally relevant to the trial’s outcome. As evidenced in their interviews, jurors are consistently tuned in to bodies, especially those of defendants, when making their decisions. This chapter analyzes ways in which jurors physically interact with defendants during trials and how these interactions mediate their levels of empathy for defendants. This includes often unexamined components of trials such as eye contact and the spatial arrangement of the courtroom, which, my analysis demonstrates, affect jurors’ ability and willingness to empathize with defendants. These contextual components are institutionally mediated by particular legal paralinguistic ideologies in order to manipulate ways in which jurors encounter defendants, contributing to the moral and emotional distance jurors rely on to sentence defendants to death.

Keywords:   multimodality, body, paralinguistic ideology, eye contact, spatial arrangement

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