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This paper deals with the communication process involved within a criminal jury in the U.S. Drawing on authentic data, I attempt to describe the features that characterise the spoken interaction in this context, in light of some of the several communicative asymmetries between the participants, which constitute the core of this process. Moreover, I will try to determine to what degree the communication of specialised legal knowledge takes place, taking into consideration the procedural and legal constraints that are present.
This analysis also aims to offer new insights into the discussion on the adequacy of the communication developing between legal experts and laymen within a jury trial. Indeed, the knowledge asymmetry between the legal experts and laymen is evident in the context of a trial, where people with different cultural and professional backgrounds are put face-to-face, in a specific legal context. The success (or failure) of communication is based on the information exchange across these asymmetries, and an analysis of how this communicative process is carried out will contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental role and implications of this knowledge asymmetry and will describe how a very conventional and standardised context responds to the necessity of interacting with ordinary people.