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Legal-Lay CommunicationTextual Travels in the Law$
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Chris Heffer, Frances Rock, and John Conley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199746842

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746842.001.0001

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Tracing Crime Narratives in the Palmer Trial (1856)

Tracing Crime Narratives in the Palmer Trial (1856)

From the Lawyer’s Opening Speeches to the Judge’s Summing Up

Chapter:
(p.168) Chapter 8 Tracing Crime Narratives in the Palmer Trial (1856)
Source:
Legal-Lay Communication
Author(s):

Dawn Archer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746842.003.0008

Dawn Archer examines the intertextual construction of a legal case in an 1856 murder case, the Trial of Palmer, which took place shortly after a change in the law permitted the defence counsel as well as the prosecutor to address the jury directly. Archer uses statistical techniques to analyse the discursive practices the two lawyers employed to reconstruct the person and conduct of the accused. The prosecutor wove a comprehensive narrative that accounted for virtually every aspect of the crime. The defence counsel invoked a number of letters, including some that were used by the prosecution to establish guilt, but which the defence used to suggest that the accused was a loyal friend of the victim. Given the historical context, Palmer’s defence counsel was engaging in a novel exercise in intertextuality. Significantly, Archer observes, some of the practices present in the Palmer case are still prominent in criminal trials.

Keywords:   Intertextuality, murder, narrative, jury speeches, reanimate, voice, entextualization, statistical analysis

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