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Do Changes in Technology Impact on Communication in the Victorian Koori Court?
Natalie Alison Stroud
Monash University, Australia
The Koori Court of Victoria seeks to provide a culturally sensitive forum for Indigenous offenders and give them a voice in the criminal justice system. The interactive 'sentencing conversation' in this specialist court engages Elders from the Indigenous community to provide cultural advice to the presiding Magistrate and to the offender.
This paper considers the extent that recent changes in technology have on the unique cross-cultural communication features of this court. One change in the court process over the period of the research is the introduction of video link screens which are now becoming more frequently used in the court when the defendant remains in prison, under changes to the Justice Legislation (Evidence and Other Acts) Amendment Act 2016. Video links are used to assist the increased number of cases heard in a day in the Koori Court, and the frequent delays in transporting offenders from remand or prison (Magistrates' Court of Victoria Annual Report 2015-2016).
This paper examines how video link screens have changed the interactive 'sentencing conversation' back to a dialogue between the Magistrate and defendant, with other participants taking a reduced role in the process. Increased use of the video link may therefore negate some of the positive outcomes of Koori Court communication which enhance the perception of justice for Aboriginal offenders in the Victorian criminal justice system.
Using objects in forensic interviews with witnesses with a Learning Disability: Improving quality of evidence by replacing talk with low technology Alternative and Augmentative Communication devices
Tina Pereira, Michelle Aldridge
Cardiff University, United Kingdom
When alleged victims or witnesses (WIT) with a Learning Disability (LD) are interviewed by the police in England and Wales, a range of low technology alternative and augmentative communication aids are sometimes used in interview to improve the quality of evidence (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/23/enacted 1999). These communication aids are typically introduced by a Registered Intermediary (RI), a communication specialist present in the interview to facilitate communication between the vulnerable witness and the interviewing officer (IO) (Ministry_of_Justice 2015). Elsewhere, objects have been used as tools to augment spoken communication in a number of professional settings (Heath and Luff 1992; Hazell and Cockerill 2001; Carlsson et al. 2014; Day and Wagner 2014; Mondada 2014) but there is a dearth of research on their use in legal settings and the work here attempts to address this gap.
In this paper then, illustrating with real, anonymised data, we show that, in investigative interviews, communication aids in addition to augmenting spoken discourse, can also be used as an alternative to speech by a witness with an LD who lacks the verbal competence to give a full account. Using Conversation Analysis, we argue that the adoption of communication aids enables the witness to communicate new previously unknown investigation relevant information e.g. position (of the suspect) and the series of events that toook place during the allegation. In brief, the use of communication aids has a positive impact on the quality of evidence obtained from vulnerable witnesses in an investigation, enabling equal access to a fair trial.