Scholars have drawn on the rich literature on narrative in their research into the American trial, a perspective at least implicitly endorsed by the United States Supreme Court in the Old Chief case. This is all to the good. However, the real power of the "narrative approach" emerges when one thinks concretely about what is distinctive to the different kinds of narrative employed at trial. This article explores the rhetorical and epistemological significance of trial narrative in the full context of the "consciously structured hybrid" of language practices that make up the American trial. Such a perspective enables us to admire a well-tried case as realizing practical truths beyond story-telling.

Date of this Version

September 2004