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Judicial Language Project

Initiated in 2005, the Judicial Language Project was the first of its kind in the country. Created and supervised by Adjunct Professor Wendy Murphy and Professor Judith Greenberg, JLP is a project exclusively at New England Law| Boston that seeks to open the dialog about inappropriate language in appellate level sexual assault cases and offer alternatives.  The goal is to identify ways in which the language used in these opinions perpetuates stereotypes and stigmatizes victims, diminishing the severity of what happened.  The ultimate goal is to encourage lawyers, clerks, judges, and the community at large to be aware of the way speaking and writing about sexual assault effects our perceptions of it.  By not eroticizing sexual assault, we can ensure that the line between perpetrator and victim is not blurred.

Maintaining this distinction will hopefully make the legal system more sensitive to the trauma associated with sexual assault, encouraging victims to come forward and lowering the rate of unreported sexual violence.

Students who work in this project identify the objectionable language, state why it is objectionable, and propose more acceptable ways of saying the same thing.  The goal of this project is to make the public and the judiciary aware of language that is demeaning or insulting to women, children, and other victims of violence.

How do I get involved? 

Every year the project takes on new students and trains them to do various tasks within the project. Students will learn how to identify inappropriate language, how to use socio-linguistic research to explain why the language is inappropriate along with suggesting appropriate alternatives. Students can even earn the opportunity to write letters to courts and lobby for change. 

To get involved e-mail the current student directors of the project, Kelly Renaud and Tifanei Ressl-Moyer, for more information.