Language impairments what s a lawyer to do
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Language Impairments: What’s a lawyer to do??. Raising the issue. Language related deficits extend beyond 15 (hereinafter **) Competency Motions to suppress Miranda Voluntariness False Confession Consent Guilty pleas Lack of intent or knowledge as a defense Mitigation/Culpability

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Language impairments what s a lawyer to do
Language Impairments:What’s a lawyer to do??

Raising the issue
Raising the issue

  • Language related deficits extend beyond 15 (hereinafter **)

  • Competency

  • Motions to suppress

    • Miranda

    • Voluntariness

    • False Confession

    • Consent

  • Guilty pleas

  • Lack of intent or knowledge as a defense

  • Mitigation/Culpability

  • Revocations

  • Juvenile Waiver/Transfer

  • Sexual Predator Commitments (failure to comply with treatment)


  • Ability to assist counsel is the main event and is not just an exchange of information

  • Competency requires ability to effectivelycommunicate with counsel. Cooper v. Oklahoma

  • **

  • IQ insufficient measure

  • Talking slowly doesn’t fix it; neither does repeating it

  • Request language assessments

    • SLP/Psychologist

    • Expert testimony

Confessions miranda
Confessions: Miranda

  • Vocabulary

  • Ability to follow complex sentences

  • Abstract concepts

  • Fund of Knowledge

    • Even if they’ve seen it on TV

  • Auditory Processing

  • Follow directions

  • Likely to say they understand (they don’t want to look stupid)

  • **

Confessions suggestibility reliability
Confessions: Suggestibility & Reliability

  • **

  • More suggestible

  • More likely to confess

  • More likely to confess to something they didn’t do

  • Narrative deficits

    • Incomplete or misleading statements(“he got in my face so I shot him”)

  • Pragmatic deficits (how police interpret the suspect and his statement)

Guilty pleas
Guilty pleas

  • Massive amounts of information

    • Risks

    • Benefits

    • Elements

    • Collateral consequences

  • Difficulties with decision making

  • Time limits on accepting an offer

Post dispositional issues
Post-dispositional issues

  • Increased likelihood of disciplinary problems (Clarke)

  • Inability to successfully deal with cookie-cutter verbal based therapies

  • Many literacy programs assume intact language system

  • Difficulties with restorative justice

  • Compliance with supervision (with a long list of rules…)

  • ADA??

How language impairments impair the attorney client relationshi p
How Language Impairments Impair the Attorney-Client Relationship

  • Working within the attorney-client relationship itself

  • Narrative skills

  • Understanding the legal process

  • Decision Making

  • Empathy & Trust

Recognizing li
Recognizing LI Relationshi

  • Previously unidentified

  • Perfect world: routine language assessments

  • Receptive, processing, & expressive skills

    • SLP

  • Special assessment for pragmatic deficiencies

  • SLP as advisor and “interpreter”

  • FAQ: Where do I find an SLP?

When money is an object look for signs
When Money Is An Object: RelationshiLook for signs

  • Forgetting instructions

  • Confusion with non-literal language

  • Talking a lot but saying little

  • Not asking questions

  • Not answering questions

  • Seeming “difficult”

  • “He got in my face so I shot him”

  • Remember - **

External clues
External clues Relationshi

  • School records esp. IEPs

  • Verbal IQ (with a word of caution)

  • Reading scores

  • Associated disorders or conditions

  • Disciplinary issues

    • Behavior Problem?

Improving attorney client communication
Improving Attorney-Client Communication Relationshi

  • Beware of your non-verbal signals

  • Timelessness

  • 3 1hour meetings > 1 3hour meeting

  • Notes as props, not the main event

  • Atty-client conversations as act of double consciousness

    • What is the client doing/saying?

    • What am I doing/saying??

Getting beyond he got in my face so i shot him
Getting beyond “he got in my face so I shot him” Relationshi

  • Lawyer as “archeologist looking for shards”

  • Allow story to emerge

    • Assume multiple discussions

  • Visuals & Role Play

  • Targeted discussions

    • When you say ‘he got in your face,’ show me exactly what he did

  • Walk client back for context

  • Uncovering emotional content

Getting beyond law talk
Getting beyond law talk Relationshi

  • Unpack the concepts and language

  • Put concepts in context of client’s case

    • Reframe

  • Visuals and Role Play

  • Shorter, less complex sentences

  • Explain expectations, perceptions, and rules of engagement

  • Assess understanding (without it looking like a test)

  • Beware TMI

    • What does the client need to know NOW?

    • Chunk information

  • Quit talking like a lawyer

    • You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. --- Albert Einstein

Do you understand
Do you understand? Relationshi

Language impairments what s a lawyer to do

  • Easy fit with RelationshiDaubert/Frye

  • Not understanding rules vs. non-compliance

  • Reconsider the “bad attitude” (Pragmatic deficits)

  • Reconsider “he got in my face so I shot him”

  • Reconsider poor conduct record

  • Reconsider poor compliance with treatment/supervision (“you were given a chance”)

  • Getting around “he looks like he understands”

  • Previously unidentified

  • **

More trouble spots
More trouble spots Relationshi

  • Client testimony

    • Questioning form

    • Credibility

    • Impeachment

    • Expert to explain?

  • Client cooperation/Acceptance of responsibility

  • Remorse

  • Presentence interview

  • Limited time plea offers