Who wrote the ransom note in the Jon Benét Ramsey case? Who authored emails that were part of a business fraud in England? And, was it the defendant in the Coleman murder trial who wrote several letters threatening the life of his wife? These sorts of questions arise routinely in the legal system, calling for expert testimony from forensic and applied linguists to help answer them.
In October 2012, BLS held a two-day symposium to examine and advance the science of forensic authorship identification. The workshop was funded by a grant to the Law School from the Law and Social Science Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Professor Lawrence Solan, Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Director of the Center for the Study of Law, Language, and Cognition, applied for the funding and is the grant’s principal investigator.
Nine speakers from the fields of linguistics and computer science presented their methods, whether by describing a computer-generated algorithm or by describing how they go about solving cases. The speakers were among the people doing the best work in the area, with participants coming from the United States, Ireland, England, Israel, Greece, Spain and Brazil.
To preserve the wealth of material covered in this two-day symposium, Brooklyn Law School, with funding from the NSF, created this Authorship website. It serves as the leading collection of work in the field, and as a continuing reference tool for both legal academics and those engaged in the field itself. This website also reports on various advances in authorship attribution research, on the testimony of various experts, and on judicial reactions to offers of expert testimony.