Language and Justice

Language and Justice

UAA Justice Center. (1992). "Language and Justice." Alaska Justice Forum 9(1): 4 (Spring 1992). Phyllis Morrow, a cultural anthropologist at UAF, attorney Galen Paine, and legal interpreter Betty Harmun are conducting a study on the interaction between Yup'ik speakers and the American legal system and the impact upon case outcome of the almost exclusive use of English in the justice system, especially in the courts.

Three Alaska researchers have received a National Science Foundation grant to examine communicative and ethnographic factors in legal institutions and structures. Phyllis Morrow, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Galen Paine, an attorney, and Betty Harmun, a legal interpreter, will explore the interaction of Yupi'k Eskimo culture and the American legal system through interviews and observation of court proceedings conducted in Bethel. The study will also examine confessions of criminal defendants to test anecdotal evidence that native Yupi'k speakers confess to crimes more readily than non-Yupi' ks and confess more completely. In addition, the researchers will analyze the impact upon case outcome of the almost exclusive use of lay and legal English in the justice system, particularly in the courtroom.