Robert Leonard Associates consults with law firms, government and law enforcement agencies, and individuals in situations where language analysis may be helpful. We research, analyze, consult, write reports and testify in both civil and criminal cases.

Robert Leonard Associates’ forensic linguists analyze many types of language evidence. We conduct multi-level analyses, examining a wide variety of identifying features of language usage.

Recent cases include analysis of:

  • Undercover Recordings
  • Threatening Letters
  • Disinformation Letters
  • Written Contracts
  • Interview and Hiring Documents
  • Emails
  • Instant Messages
  • Signage
  • Medical Records and Treatment Notes
  • Confessions
  • Web Logs
  • Wills
  • Spoken Threats, Promises, and Warnings

Authors often seek to mask their writing (similar, perhaps,to someone trying not to leave fingerprints), or attempt to attribute the writing to other persons (analogous to leaving someone else’s fingerprints).  However, the underlying structure and attributes of the writing sample’s origins can often be detected, and the actual author identified.

Examples of linguistic investigative features:

  • vocabulary usage
  • grammar, fluency
  • narrative structure
  • punctuation, spelling
  • underlying native language
  • regionalisms
  • register type (e.g., letter, ransom note, detective novel)
  • formality level
  • semantic and pragmatic strategies
  • peculiarities of style, etc.

Some specific applications of forensic linguistics to litigation and investigations:

  • Linguistic Demographic Profile
    What does the language tell about the writer or speaker? Language patterns can vary by geographical region, age, gender, educational level, social group, and other demographic features.
  • Authorship Analysis of sets of writings
    For example, who wrote document X? Did the same person write both document X and document Y?
  • Analysis of criminal activities committed through language
    Bribery, extortion, solicitation, perjury, etc.  For example, were certain statements threats, or do they fall within standard business negotiation?
  • Meaning of contracts and statutes
    For example, does analysis of context support one interpretation over another?  Do accepted lexicographic practices support the meaning claimed for words in a contract?  How may we discern “ordinary” meaning?
  • Analysis and evaluation of confessions
    For example, could the defendant have written what is claimed to be his confession?  Is the document claimed to be a confession actually an admission of guilt?
  • Language and memory
  • Disparity between audio and written court records
  • Covert and other tape recorded evidence analysis
  • Jury instructions
  • Secret language and code analysis; slang and jargon
  • Problems arising from translation and interpretation; from different languages, and from different dialects
  • Lip-reading interpretations of videotapes
  • Readability and information presentation of instructions and warnings
  • Plagiarism/copyright infringement
  • Trademark disputes