Silence in Court

Teresa Ashforth


Abstract, Acknowledgements and Preface

Chapter 1: Saying and Doing

An overview of some of the specific ways in which the formation of assumptions by Whites about Aboriginal people and by Aboriginal people about Whites has determined the tenor of their interaction. By drawing on some well-established theories of communication and discourse analysis this chapter endeavours to specify some of the potential risks attendant upon such interaction, both in a legal as well as in a discursive sense.

Chapter 2: Aspects of Evidence

Explores some of the practical disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal people in relation to the evidence presented against them in court. It also attempts to assess some of the many attempts made by White legal authorities to counteract such disadvantages.

Chapter 3: Police Perspectives and Practice

Goes into more specific detail regarding the background to negative police attitudes towards Aboriginal people and the extent to which the modification of such attitudes is or is not being adequately addressed in the context of contemporary police education.

Chapter 4: Positions and Positioning of Aboriginal People

Examines some of the 'White ways' of speaking to and about Aboriginal people and notes some Aboriginal responses to, and perceptions of, such ways of speaking. It also scrutinises the way in which Aboriginal offences against White law can be not only stimulated by but also constructed by White discourse.

Chapter 5: Lawyers and Aboriginal People

Looks at the situation facing lawyers in the context of their work with Aboriginal people. Again drawing on discourse theory, it endeavours, by analyses of two particular cases, to highlight some of the possible pitfalls, as well as the potential for success, in such work.

Chapter 6: Writing the Text

Explores the genesis of, and examines in detail, a representative sample of the crucially-decisive written texts presented in court. It also records some ongoing and increasingly insistent complaints by Aboriginal people regarding their negative subjection to 'legal discourse'. It finally concludes by setting into perspective, and suggesting alternatives to, some of the questionable practices which constitute the problem.


New: 25 July, 1996 | Now: 27 April, 2015