It has already been affirmed that there are power and asymmetries in
courtroom discourse. The courtroom professional such as judges,
magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors have power over the defendants and
witnesses. (Danet, 1984, Luchjenbroers, 1997). This book attempts to
provide an explanatory account of linguistic communication between legal
professional such as lawyers and prosecutors and the witnesses with a view
to show the power prevalent in the courtroom discourse. To this end,
various forms of questions such as WH-questions, alternative questions,
yes/no questions and declarative questions were analysed to account for the
discoursive practices between the lawyers, prosecutors and the witnesses.
The framework of this study is supplied by Luchjenbroers (1993).
Additionally, WH-questions and declarative in their various forms are
further analysed which reveal further manipulation by lawyers to maintain
control over courtroom discourse.
The data are 20 hours of audio-taped cases recorded at the High Courts of
Justice and Magistrate Courts in Nigeria. The cases collected include
assault, theft, house breaking, land, mutiny and rental. The key
suggestions in this book are that narrative mode is indispensable in the
fact-finding process which explains why it is favoured during examination.
Also questions that contain propositions and presuppositions are strong
weapon for the lawyers in controlling, convincing and persuading the
witnesses to endorse their ideas. The four analysis carried out in the
thesis suggest the fact that lawyers maintain tight control of courtroom