33 Sydney L. Rev. 395 (2011)
Mere Guesswork: Cross-Lingual Voice Comparisons and the Jury

handle is hein.journals/sydney33 and id is 401 raw text is: Mere guesswork': Cross-
Lingual Voice Comparisons
and the Jury
Gary Edmond,* Kristy Martiret and Mehera San
Over the last two decades there has been significant growth in the
number of cases involving voice comparison and identification
evidence based on audio surveillance technologies. Courts have
generally been open to this evidence, as well as allowing juries to
undertake their own comparisons. Overall, decisions on the
admissibility of this evidence feature a strong resistance to
attempts to require some assessment of the reliability of voice
comparisons and an over-reliance on traditional features of the
adversarial trial, including directions and warnings, to expose and
address weaknesses in this evidence. This article focuses on two
cases where the jury was invited to compare voices speaking
across two different languages. Drawing on empirical research
concerned with the validity and reliability of lay voice comparison,
this article outlines the dangers associated with juries engaging in
cross-lingual voice identification and comparison. It argues that if
courts are to take seriously their obligation to ensure a fair trial,
they should be willing to exclude voice comparison evidence of
unknown probative value and reliability, rather than rely on a
'properly instructed jury' as the best mechanism for managing the
frailties of this evidence.
Professor, School of Law and Director, Expertise, Evidence & Law Program,
University of New South Wales. This research was supported by the Australian
Research Council (DP0771770 and FT0992041). An earlier version of this essay was
presented at the Evidence Law in the 2 1' Century Conference, University of Sydney,
September 2010. The authors would like to thank the participants at that Conference,
as well as David Hamer, Martina Pasqualino and the anonymous referees, for their
comments on earlier versions of this paper.
Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales.
Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of New South Wales.

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