I. Integrity

A. Mindful of their obligations to furnish valid, reliable, and accurate linguistic information and analyses to the justice system, consultants must recognize that their duty is to provide objective scientific evidence that will assist the court in arriving at its conclusions—a duty that overrides any obligation owed to the retaining attorney or litigants who have engaged them. Under no circumstances will consultants knowingly provide linguistic analyses or conclusions that are misleading to an accurate fact-finding process.

B. Linguists who are engaged in forensic linguistic consulting will not enter into any arrangements in which compensation is dependent on the outcome of the case.

C. In appropriate cases (usually where clients are unable to pay full fee), consulting linguists may provide their services at reduced-fee rates or without charge, not only for the sake of the advancement of science but also as a duty to linguistic science, society, and the judicial system.

D. Testimony and reports must be based upon the linguist’s professional knowledge and expertise, and upon meticulous research that uses established and accepted scientific linguistic knowledge and methodology.

E. Consultants will not add to, delete from, or otherwise alter their reports at the request or suggestion of the retaining attorney if doing so would materially affect the accuracy or reliability of their analyses or conclusions. If material within a report must be deleted because it is legally privileged or inadmissible, consultants should carefully consider whether such deletions materially affect the validity of their analyses or conclusions, and they will inform the retaining attorney if the emended report would be inaccurate or misleading to the fact-finding process.

7 Responses to I. Integrity

  1. Gerald McMenamin says:

    Section I.C. needs to be elaborated on such that the expert’s decision to work pro bono is not, or does not appear to be, related to the linguist’s personal opinion or position regarding the matter in question and litigants involved. The danger here is that the expert may be or appear to be an advocate for a party by offering to work for reduced or no fees.

  2. Wallis Reid says:

    Section C speaks of offering reduced fees “for the sake of the advancement of science” and “as a duty to linguistic science”. I cannot imagine how offering reduced fees could possibly advance science; nor can I see how linguistic science creates a duty, since any science is presumably value-free. One would offer reduced fees because of one’s commitment to fairness and equality of justice; being a member of society creates a duty, not science.

    Wallis Reid

  3. Ron Butters says:

    The thinking of the compilers was that any time one takes on a case, one should do so mindful not only of what one might contribute to “justice” but also what one can learn from the application of the science. Science is supposed to be objective, and so is the legal consultant; but I don’t think that science is “value-free”, if only because scientists are presumably committed to objectivity and the advancement of science.

  4. Ron Butters says:

    With respect to Gerald M’s comment: We would not want to think we were advocating advocacy in pro bono work any more than we would want to advocate hired-gunnism in consulting-for-pay situations. I don’t see how either implication is readily available from what the statement actually says, but I would appreciate a suggestion as to how the wording could be improved. One thing to keep in mind is that no one, it seems to me, should feel an ethical obligation to take a case that he or she finds morally repugnant.

  5. Gerald McMenamin says:

    I did not succeed in making my point, and change appears difficult, so on to approval.

  6. Charles J. Fillmore says:

    I was once asked if I was willing to offer testimony on the contested interpretation of a particular document. I examined it and concluded that the opponent’s interpretation was correct. I offered to send in my analysis so they could be prepared for opponent’s argument but they asked me not to, because it would then have to be revealed to the other side. They also said they obviously could not pay me for the service, for the same reason. (There had been no official agreement.)

    A colleague suggested I should send my report to the other side. Would THAT have been ethical?

    (this is just a comment for its own sake, not a proposal for changes in the text of the Integrity section; nor am I expecting a reply)

  7. Isabel Picornell says:

    E – I think this area should be expanded to include consulting work at the investigative stage, which does not involve a retaining attorney. These clients occasionally also ask for reports to be altered.

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