III. Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest

A. Consultants will not disclose confidential information acquired as a result of consulting relationships or negotiations leading towards the establishment of consulting relationships without proper and specific authority, unless there is a legal obligation to do so. Duties of confidentiality must be maintained even in a social or academic setting—both during the pendency of the case and thereafter—unless confidentiality is waived by the party to whom the duty is owed or the information that the linguist discloses is a matter of public record.

B. In any publication or conference presentation that makes use of material or analysis generated by forensic consulting work, or of material that bears directly on the matters at issue in the work undertaken, linguists will reveal the nature of the consulting origins of the generated material. Moreover, when making such use of material generated by forensic linguistic consulting work, the consultant will, whenever feasible, obtain a waiver from any party to whom a duty of confidentiality is owed. If waiver is not feasible or is refused, the consultant should consider whether anonymizing the factual presentation of the material will adequately protect confidentiality. When confidentiality cannot be protected and is not waived, the consultant must forego academic use of such material.

C. To avoid appearances of impropriety, during the pendency of a case consultants should avoid unnecessary contacts with an opposing party’s expert witnesses or attorney outside the formal litigation process.

D. Consultants should not accept an engagement that would result in the consultant’s conflict of interest with respect to the potentially engaging party and another party on whose behalf the expert is currently a consultant. Before accepting an engagement that could present such a putative conflict, the consultant will reveal the nature of past, current, and proposed consulting engagements to the attorneys representing both parties so that the attorneys may determine whether a conflict of interest exists or potentially could arise.

3 Responses to III. Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest

  1. Janet Pierrehumbert says:

    I am concerned about Section B. In general, any use of data from human subjects requires the approval of the scholar’s Institutional Review Board. A decision by the researcher to adopt some form of “anonymization” is not in itself sufficient to protect the researcher against charges of unethically doing research on human subjects without their consent. If the data has been obtained from prisoners (e.g through recordings of phone calls made while in prison), then federal policies for ethical conduct of research require additional protections.

  2. Ron Butters says:

    These are concerns that (it seems to me) are in addition to the ethical concerns that the statement addresses. If there are additional legal constraints upon the use of data, then they certainly must be obeyed. But the ethical statement need not, it seems to me, repeat the necessity for compliance with rules and regulations that are already announced elsewhere. Data that is created in applied linguistic contexts may or may not be subject to Institutional Review, but even in cases where it may not be so subject, the ethical statement should still require anonymization.

  3. Neal says:

    IIIB, last sentence: “forego” > “forgo”

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