CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hessick on Corpus Linguistics and Criminal Law

Hessick carissaCarissa Byrne Hessick (University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law) has posted Corpus Linguistics and the Criminal Law (Forthcoming, Brigham Young University Law Review, Vol. 2018, No. 4, 2018) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This brief response to Ordinary Meaning and Corpus Linguistics, an essay by Stefan Gries and Brian Slocum, explains why corpus linguistics represents a radical break from current statutory interpretation practice, and it argues that corpus linguistics ought not be adopted as an interpretive methodology, especially for interpreting criminal laws. Corpus linguistics has superficial appeal because it promises to increase predictability and to decrease the role of judges’ personal preferences in statutory interpretation. But there are reasons to doubt that corpus linguistics can achieve these goals. More importantly, corpus linguistics sacrifices other, more important values, including notice and accountability.

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