The Forum on Language and the Law is an annual symposium hosted by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Utah, with support from the S.J. Quinney College of Law, the College of Humanities, and the Tanner Humanities Center. Its purpose is to bring together linguists, lawyers, judges, law enforcement officials, court interpreters, language educators, researchers, community members, government representatives, and other important stake holders to learn about and discuss state-of-the-art solutions to a broad range of problems involving language and the law. These problems include language crimes, linguistic evidence of the identity of the perpetrator of a crime, the interpretation of statutory meaning, contracts and trademark disputes, due process for people with limited English proficiency, the language of the courtroom, and many other timely and critical issues.
The inaugural Forum on Language and the Law was held at the University of Utah on April 20, 2018. The theme of the forum that year was “Non-native speakers of English in the U.S. legal system,” and speakers included Robert Leonard (Hofstra University), William G. Eggington (Brigham Young University), Aneta Pavlenko (University of Oslo), Scott Jarvis (University of Utah), Elizabeth Hepford (Wesleyan University), Margaret Van Naerssen (Independent Consultant), Keith Walters (Portland State University), and Melissa Wallace (University of Texas, San Antonio). Special guests in attendance included Lynn W. Davis (Judge, Utah Fourth District Court), Sim Gill (District Attorney, Salt Lake County), Mel Greenlee (Staff Attorney, California Appellate Project), Ghulam H. Hasnain (Executive Director, Salt Lake American), John W. Huber (U.S. Attorney), Neil H. Olsen (Ethnographic Linguist), Michelle Pickens (FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Public Corruption/Civil Rights Squad), Emily Sharp Rains (Attorney and Assistant Professor, Westminster College), Josh Scharman (Deputy Chief, Salt Lake City Police Department), and Michael Squires, (Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Mia Love).
Future symposia will be tailored to different audiences from one year to the next.