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Deceptive Ambiguity by Police and Prosecutors$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190669898

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190669898.001.0001

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Prosecutors Use Deceptive Ambiguity

Prosecutors Use Deceptive Ambiguity

(p.101) 4 Prosecutors Use Deceptive Ambiguity
Deceptive Ambiguity by Police and Prosecutors

Roger W. Shuy

Oxford University Press

Since prosecution speech events are conducted in the presence of judges and defense attorneys, prosecutors must use more subtle ways of being ambiguously deceptive. In the perjury hearing of union agent Steven Suyat, the prosecutor’s ambiguity converted the speech event of using Suyat as his own witness against other union members into an indictment against Suyat, then used deceptive ambiguity about Suyat’s schema for why he was testifying, conversational strategies for eliciting what appeared to be guilt, and meanings of words that were not shared by Suyat. In the murder trial of Larry Gentry, his prosecutor created ambiguity about Gentry’s concept of the speech event and schema of why he was involved, finally reinterpreting Gentry’s words to make him appear guilty of aiding and abetting. The grand jury hearing of Father Joseph Sica illustrates the prosecutor’s deceptive ambiguity relating to the speech event and schemas, but especially to his reinterpretation of Sica’s words.

Keywords:   deceptive ambiguity, prosecutors, speech events, schemas, conversational strategies, Steven Suyat, Larry Gentry, Father Joseph Sica

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