March 30-31, 2017
240 Dockser Hall, Northeastern University School of Law

Justice should be accessible to everyone equally, but is it?

Will every juror understand:

“Failure of recollection is common. Innocent misrecollection is not uncommon.”

Wouldn’t we do better with:

“People often forget things or make mistakes in what they remember.”

In the Trayvon Martin trial, the testimony of the key prosecution witness, a speaker of African-American English, was discounted because of prejudice against her dialect. 

This conference focused on how linguistic misunderstandings can lead to exclusion and injustice, and how linguistic research can offer insight into productive legal reforms.

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Program

Thursday, March 30, 2017

4:15 PM

Registration/Coffee/Snacks

4:45 PM

Conference Introduction

Heather Littlefield
Associate Teaching Professor and Assistant Director, Linguistics Program, Northeastern University

5:00 PM

Opening Remarks

Janet Randall
Professor, Linguistics Program and English Department, Northeastern University

Jeremy Paul
Dean, Northeastern University School of Law

5:15 PM

Welcoming Remarks: 

Lawrence Solan
Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Education, Brooklyn Law School

5:45 PM

Panelists

Janet Randall
Professor, Linguistics Program and English Department, Northeastern University

Jeremy Paul
Dean, Northeastern University School of Law

Friday, March 31, 2017

8:30 AM 

Registration and Light Breakfast

8:45 AM

Welcome

Whose Justice? The Injustice of Legal Writing

9:00 AM 

Margaret Hahn-Dupont
Associate Teaching Professor, Northeastern University School of Law

9:30 AM

Janet Randall
Professor, Linguistics Program and English Department, Northeastern University

10:00 AM

Panelists

The Honorable Gabrielle Wolohojian
Associate Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court

Faviana Olivier
Lecturer, English Department, Northeastern University

Barbara Pearson 
Research Associate and Project Manager, Departments of Linguistics and Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst

10:30 AM

Break

The Meanings of Words, The Meanings of Silence

10:45 AM

Steven Winter
Walter S. Gibbs Professor of Constitutional Law
Wayne Law, Wayne State University 

11:15 AM

Janet Ainsworth
John D. Eshelman Professor of Law
Seattle University School of Law 

11:45 AM

Panelists

Jeremy Paul
Dean, Northeastern University School of Law 

Bruce Fraser
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Education, Boston University 

Gennaro Chierchia
Haas Foundation Professor of Linguistics and Chair, Department of Linguistics, Harvard University

12:15 PM

Lunch

Keynote Lecture 
(via live video link)

The Honorable Richard Posner
Judge, US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago School of Law

Linguistic Apartheid?

1:00 PM

Lawrence Solan
Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Education, Brooklyn Law School

1:30 PM 

Michel DeGraff
Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

2:00 PM

Panelists

Kathy Jo Cook
Managing Member, KJC Law Firm

Jack McDevitt
Associate Dean for Research, College of Social Sciences and Humanities; Director, Institute on Race and Justice, Northeastern University 

Donaldo Macedo
Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education, University of Massachusetts Boston

2:30 PM

Break

Zooming In:  African American English and Justice

2:45 PM 

Lisa Green   
Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

3:15 PM 

Students from the Plain English Jury Instruction Project
Northeastern University’s College of Science, School of Law and College of Computer & Information Science

3:45 PM 

Panelists

Daniel Medwed
Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law

Christian Snow ’18
Student, Northeastern University School of Law

Tom Roeper
Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst

4:00 PM 

Closing remarks

4:30 PM 

Conclusion


Sponsored by Northeastern University’s


Humanities Center, College of Social Sciences and Humanities
Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
School of Law
Department of English

and the Flaschner Judicial Institute