Call to Action

Presentation at NSW Judicial Commission (40 mins)

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Text of Call to Action

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8 December 2017

Dear Professor Reinhardt,

We write on behalf of the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS) and the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA).

These organisations wish to call on the Australian judiciary, through you, to review and reform the legal handling of covert recordings used as evidence in Australian courts. As explained in the attached article*, there are substantial problems with the processes developed within the law over the past 30 years that are creating actual and potential injustice in our courts.

These problems relate to four main areas:

  • translation of covert recordings in languages other than standard Australian English
  • transcription of indistinct English in covert recordings
  • attribution of utterances in covert recordings to particular speakers
  • use of ‘enhanced’ versions of poor-quality covert recordings.

We would be grateful if you could circulate this document to relevant organisations.

We have established a Reference Group on covert recordings, chaired by Dr Helen Fraser, to facilitate discussion of these matters. Perhaps you might encourage formation of a similar group of appropriate representatives from law and law enforcement, to liaise with our group.

We believe the best starting point is to convene a 1-2 day workshop to discuss the issues raised by the attached article and related materials, to be held in the first quarter of 2018. We would like to hear back from you with a formal response by the end of February. In the meantime we are available for informal discussion or consultation on any aspect.

*Article attached to Call to Action

Fraser, H. (2018). Thirty years is long enough: It’s time to create a process that ensures covert recordings used as evidence in court are interpreted reliably and fairly. Journal of Judicial Administration  NOW OFFICIALLY PUBLISHED

Other background materials

Pre-publication version of new article ‘Enhancing’ forensic audio: False beliefs and their effect on criminal trials.

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