Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 838.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 06:53:09 +0100
From: "Theodore F. Brunner" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 14.0833 stylometrics in the courts?
> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 833.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 07:07:07 +0100
> From: Hilary Attfield <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Could anyone point me to documentation of the use of stylometrics for proof
>of authorship in British, Canadian, or Australian courts? I believe that
>such evidence is not generally acceptable in US courts but is in the
>aforementioned countries. Help, anyone?
I am not so sure about the comment regarding US courts, and what I am about
to mention will require considerably more research. In 1974, when Patty
Hearst was about to go to trial for her involvement in Symbionese
Liberation Army activities, I received a late-night phone call from F. Lee
Bailey, her attorney (I was dabbling in computer-aided stylometrics then).
Bailey wanted to know whether computers could be used to demonstrate that
various written statements addressed by Patty to her parents and to the
press were in fact NOT written by her, but by a member of the SLA group.
The matter never went anywhere (I ended up telling Bailey that the sum
total of relevant written material available was far too small to permit
any reasonable conclusions); nevertheless, it seems to me that Bailey would
not have pursued this track, had he been certain that any potential
evidence resulting from it would be inadmittable in court.
Theodore F. Brunner
28802 Top of the World Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone (949) 494-8861
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