Reported writing in court: putting evidence ‘on record’

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This paper examines how "reported writing" is sequentially embedded in Dutch criminal trials. In the Dutch criminal court, because of its inquisitorial nature, judges have an active role. They interview the suspect during the hearing and while doing so they frequently read from the case file. The case file consists of various documents that have been drawn up in the preliminary investigations, such as police records of suspect and witness statements. The statements are not read out loud in their entirety, but fragments are selected and woven into the courtroom discourse. The case file plays an important role because, according to the immediacy principle, the judge's verdict must be based on the information and documents that have been dealt with during the trial. In the context of examining the evidence in the courtroom, this paper illustrates how judges embed fragments from a document that they choose to read out loud, in order to establish the facts. Furthermore, this paper shows how reported writing allows the judge to assign turns to and animate "written voices," and make those words a part of the courtroom interaction and hence the reconstruction of what happened.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-769
Number of pages22
JournalText & Talk
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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