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Can You Answer the Question?
Unformatted Document Text:  24 This sequential structure allows the prosecution or the presiding judge to persist in their efforts to obtain the expected verbal admission of guilt from defendants. Given their high social and cultural positions, as well as the power and authority endowed them communicatively as questioners, the prosecution or the presiding judge is entitled to ask a large variety and quantity of questions as well as using any number of strategies to achieve their persuasive goals. When asking once does not obtain the confession, they repeat the same questions. At the same time, invalidating questioning sequences are used to nullify any responses made by defendants that do not match their expectations. Three sets of inferential rules are evoked in constructing these invalidating questions: heuristic, moral, and evidential rules. Besides invalidating unsatisfactory responses, the prosecution or the presiding judge also employs a large number of unanswerable questions such as double-barreled questions and shaming questions to confuse and puzzle defendants so as to bring out admission of guilt from them. When all these efforts do not work, they ask accusatory questions to criticize defendants for their wrongdoing or question defendants’ competency and character by asking competence-challenging questions and meta-questions. Sometimes they supply the desired answers (i.e., confession of guilt) to their own questions and ask for confirmation from defendants as an alternative means of obtaining their confession. Or they restate some responses made by defendants in order to emphasize or dramatize their guilt. Since interactively defendants are prescribed to provide an answer to the question asked, yet any responses they provide that are not confession of guilt are invalidated by the prosecution or the presiding judge, and they are greatly shamed or criticized by some of the questions, it creates the impression that that there is no other choice but confess in order to stop the questioning process. The use of questioning as a persuasive process via sequential structures can be a culture-specific phenomenon, or to put it another way, it can be a culture-specific genre of persuasive talk. The supreme power and authority enjoyed by the presiding judge and the prosecution vs. the low social and cultural status of defendants given that they are presumed to be guilty (and thus, culturally stigmatized) permit the

Authors: Chang, Yanrong.
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This sequential structure allows the prosecution or the presiding judge to persist in their efforts to
obtain the expected verbal admission of guilt from defendants. Given their high social and cultural
positions, as well as the power and authority endowed them communicatively as questioners, the
prosecution or the presiding judge is entitled to ask a large variety and quantity of questions as well as
using any number of strategies to achieve their persuasive goals. When asking once does not obtain the
confession, they repeat the same questions. At the same time, invalidating questioning sequences are
used to nullify any responses made by defendants that do not match their expectations. Three sets of
inferential rules are evoked in constructing these invalidating questions: heuristic, moral, and evidential
rules.
Besides invalidating unsatisfactory responses, the prosecution or the presiding judge also employs
a large number of unanswerable questions such as double-barreled questions and shaming questions to
confuse and puzzle defendants so as to bring out admission of guilt from them. When all these efforts do
not work, they ask accusatory questions to criticize defendants for their wrongdoing or question
defendants’ competency and character by asking competence-challenging questions and meta-questions.
Sometimes they supply the desired answers (i.e., confession of guilt) to their own questions and ask for
confirmation from defendants as an alternative means of obtaining their confession. Or they restate some
responses made by defendants in order to emphasize or dramatize their guilt.
Since interactively defendants are prescribed to provide an answer to the question asked, yet any
responses they provide that are not confession of guilt are invalidated by the prosecution or the presiding
judge, and they are greatly shamed or criticized by some of the questions, it creates the impression that
that there is no other choice but confess in order to stop the questioning process.
The use of questioning as a persuasive process via sequential structures can be a culture-specific
phenomenon, or to put it another way, it can be a culture-specific genre of persuasive talk. The supreme
power and authority enjoyed by the presiding judge and the prosecution vs. the low social and cultural
status of defendants given that they are presumed to be guilty (and thus, culturally stigmatized) permit the


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