I’m pleased and honoured to have been able to collaborate with Prof J Peter French, world renowned expert in forensic phonetics, to write a short and informative article for Australian lawyers about the dangers of providing police transcripts of indistinct covert recordings used as evidence in court.
French, P., & Fraser, H. 2018. Why “ad hoc experts” should not provide transcripts of indistinct forensic audio, and a proposal for a better approach. Criminal Law Journal, 42, 298–302.
Find it at the link below.
Why “Ad Hoc Experts” Should Not Provide Transcripts of Indistinct Forensic Audio, and a Proposal for a Better Approach
by Peter French and Helen Fraser*
Indistinct covert audio recordings frequently figure in criminal trials together with transcripts prepared by police officers who have been accorded the status of ad hoc experts on the basis of their prolonged and repeated exposure to the recordings. Drawing on research in linguistic and phonetic science, we explain why such transcripts are highly prone to be unreliable, why they may mislead juries into misinterpreting the contents of the conversations and why current court procedures for mitigating this risk are inadequate. We conclude by outlining a proposal drawn up and endorsed by senior expert linguists for establishing a process whereby reliable transcripts of indistinct covert recordings can be provided for juries.
* Peter French: Professor of Forensic Speech Science, University of York; Chairman, JP French Associates, England; President, International Association of Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics (IAFPA). Helen Fraser: Adjunct Associate Professor, Linguistics, University of New England, Australia