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    Nonverbal Language as Circumstantial Evidence

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    In 2004, Scott Peterson was convicted of killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. There was no conclusive proof that he committed the crime, only circumstantial evidence. The jurors said a major factor in their decision was Peterson's nonverbal communication, his lack of emotional responsiveness, and "stony demeanour, even during wrenching testimony about his dead wife and son."

    Should jurors be allowed to see a defendant during a trial, or should a law be put in place that sets the defendant out of the jury's view so as to not influence their decision?

    Include thoughts on the language games played in a courtroom, including nonverbal language games. Consider what manipulative elements may be present in verbal and nonverbal language games in a courtroom. You should consider the goals of the defence verses the prosecution and how each might use language accordingly. It may be helpful to review the different tools of rhetoric like the use of hyperbole, euphemisms, dysphemisms, sarcasm, emotive language, and persuasive definitions. Are these tools of rhetoric just as available in verbal language as nonverbal language?

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    Solution Preview

    I would begin answering this question by stating that I think that it is absolutely necessary for jurors not to be allowed to see a defendant during the trial, especially due to the racial and ethnic bias that is prevalent within our society. This is due to the fact that when you take into consideration the stereotypes that are placed upon certain racial and ethnic groups, juries that are not comprise of their peers, as well as the fact that the nonverbal language that is utilized by one cultural group may have a different meaning in the cultural group that a predominant number of jurors may belong to. This is a recipe for injustice and a disaster for the defendant in many cases.

    In addition, most jurors are not highly educated in legal matters and may not have a firm grasp on the intricacies of language and how wordplay ...