Janet Ainsworth

Janet Ainsworth

Professor Emerita

 Sullivan Hall 430


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  • Torts
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Child, Family, and State
  • Law, Society, and Social Change


  • B.A., magna cum laude, Brandeis University, 1974; Phi Beta Kappa
  • M.A., Yale University, 1977
  • J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1980


Janet Ainsworth is the John D. Eshelman Professor of Law at Seattle University and Research Professor in the Research Center for Legal Translation, China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Before joining the law school faculty in 1988, she practiced law at the Seattle-King County Public Defender Association from 1980 to 1988. While on the faculty at Seattle University, she has taught a wide variety of courses in the civil and criminal law, and been honored three times by her students with their annual outstanding teaching award. Her research interests lie at the intersection of law, language, and culture. The author of more than fifty articles and book chapters, she has published in law reviews such as the Yale Law Journal and the Cornell Law Review as well as in peer-reviewed social science journals. Her published books include Speaking of Language and Law, with Roger Shuy and Lawrence Solan, published by the Oxford University Press in 2015, and Discursive Constructions of Consent in the Legal Process, with Susan Ehrlich and Diana Eades, published by the Oxford University Press in 2016. She sits on the editorial board of several international journals is co-editor of the Oxford University Press series, Studies on Language and the Law. In addition to her scholarly writing, Janet Ainsworth has served on the Executive Committee of the Criminal Justice Section of the American Association of Law Schools, is incoming President of the International Association for Forensic Linguists, chairs the Coordinated Research Network on Law, Language, and Discourse for the Law and Society Association, has authored amicus curiae briefs to appellate courts including to the United States Supreme Court, has lectured at dozens of Continuing Legal Education seminars, served on state criminal justice task forces and committees, and volunteered as appellate consultant to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, from which she received its Outstanding Service Award in recognition of her contributions.


  • Re-imagining Childhood and Reconstructing the Legal Order: The Case for Abolishing the Juvenile Court, 69 North Carolina Law Review 1083 (1991); excerpted in Barry Feld, Cases and Materials on Juvenile Justice Administration (2000); also excerpted in Ellen Marrus and Irene Merker Rosenberg, Children and Juvenile Justice (2007).
  • Interpreting Sacred Texts: Preliminary Reflections on Constitutional Discourse in China, 43 Hastings Law Journal 273 (1992).
  • Speaking of Rights, 37 New York Law School Law Review 259 (1992): book review of Rights Talk, by Mary Ann Glendon; invited contribution to symposium, Lawyering Theory: Thinking Through the Legal Culture
  • In a Different Register: The Pragmatics of Powerlessness in Police Interrogation, 103 Yale Law Journal 259 (1993); excerpted in Yale Kamisar, Wayne R. LaFave, and Jerold H. Israel, Modern Criminal Procedure (West Academic Press 1994); excerpted in L. Song Richardson, Cynthia Lee and Tamara Lawson, Criminal Procedure(West Academic Press 2016).
  • Re-imagining Childhood and Reconstructing the Legal Order: The Case for Abolishing the Juvenile Court, in S. Randall Humm, et al., eds., Child, Parent, and State (1994).
  • Youth Justice in a Unified Court: A Response to Critics of the Proposal to Abolish Juvenile Court, 36 Boston College Law Review 927 (1995).
  • Book review of Trial Language: Differential Discourse Processing and Discursive Formation, by Gail Stygall; appearing in 2 Forensic Linguistics 195 (1995)
  • Book review of Punishment in America, by Michael Tonry; appearing in 19 The Champion 52 (December 1995)
  • Categories and Culture: On the 'Rectification of Names' in Comparative Law, 82 Cornell Law Review 101 (1996).
  • On Seeing Chinese Law from a Chinese Point of View: An Appreciative Look at the Scholarly Career of Professor William Jones, 74 Washington University Law Quarterly 547 (1996).
  • The Effectiveness of the Court in Protecting the Rights of Juveniles in Delinquency Cases, 6 Journal of the Future of Children 64 (Winter 1996).
  • Book review of Balancing Juvenile Justice, by Susan Guarino-Ghezzi and Edward J. Loughran; appearing in 26 Contemporary Sociology 84 (1996)
  • Achieving the Promise of Justice for Juveniles: A Call for the Abolition of Juvenile Court, in Anne McGillivray, ed., Governing Childhood, Dartmouth Press (1997)
  • Law in (Case)Books, Law (School) in Action: The Case for Casebook Reviews, 20 Seattle University Law Review 271 (1997).
  • In a Different Register: The Pragmatics of Powerlessness in Police Interrogation, excerpted in Richard A. Leo and George C. Thomas, eds., The Miranda Debate: Law, Justice, and Crime Control (1998).
  • Re-imagining Childhood and Reconstructing the Legal Order: The Case for Abolishing the Juvenile Court, excerpted in Barry Feld, ed., Readings in Juvenile Justice Administration (1999)
  • Confucian Culture Wars, book review of Melissa Macaulay, Social Power and Legal Culture: Litigation Masters in Late Imperial China, appearing in Books on Law, jurist.law.pitt.edu/lawbooks/revmay99.htm (May 1999).
  • On Academic Discrimination, 11 Cardozo Women’s Law Journal 497 (2005): in Symposium, “Innate Differences: Responses to the Remarks by Lawrence H. Summers.”
  • Linguistics as a Knowledge Domain in Law, 54 Drake L. Rev. 651 (2006), in Symposium sponsored by the American Judicature Society “Law and Science.”
  • Curses, Swearing, and Obscene Language in Police-Citizen Interactions: Why Lawyers and Judges Should Care, in M. Teresa Turell, Maria Spassova, and Jordi Cicres (eds.), Proceedings of the Second European IAFL Conference on Forensic Linguistics/ Language and the Law, 19 Seriè Activitats 315, Institut Universitari de Lation Rules, 51 Texas Liningüìstica Aplicada (2007).
  • Linguistic Ignorance or Linguistic Ideology?: Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Issues in Police Interrogation Rules, 51 Texas Linguistic Forum 28 (2007).
  • Linguistic Ignorance or Linguistic Ideology?: Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Issues in Police Interrogguistic Forum 28 (2007).
  • Linguistic Features of Police Culture and the Coercive Impact of Police Officer Swearing in Police-Citizen Street Interactions, 1 Register and Context 1 (2008).
  • 'You Have the Right to Remain Silent. . . But Only If You Ask for It Just So': The Role of Linguistic Ideology in American Police Interrogation Law, 15 Int’l Journal of Speech, Language, and Law 1 (2008).
  • Children and Criminal Procedure, in Richard A. Shweder, Thomas R. Bidell, Anne C. Dailey, Suzanne D. Dixon, Peggy J. Miller, and John Modell, eds. The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion, University of Chicago Press (2009).
  • The Performance of Gender as Reflected in American Evidence Rules: Language, Power, and the Legal Construction of Liability, in Proceedings of the International Gender and Language Association, Victoria University Press (2009).
  • Asking Jurors to Do the Impossible: A Response to Peter Tiersma, 5 Tenn. J. of Law & Pol’y 226 (Winter 2009)
  • The Social Meaning of Apology, in Paul Robinson, Stephen Garvey, & Kimberly Ferzan., eds., Criminal Law Conversations, Oxford University Press (2009)
  • ‘We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us’: Cognitive Bias and Perceptions of Threat, in Stephen Garvey et al., eds., Criminal Law Conversations, Oxford University Press (2009)
  • Linguistic Ideology versus Linguistic Practice: The Cognitive and Cultural Challenges of Code-Switching to “English-Only” Rules in American Workplaces, in Lelija Socanac, Christopher Goddard, and Ludger Kremer, eds. Curriculum, Multiculturalism, and the Law,Globus Press (2009).
  • Explorations on Courtroom Discourse: Expert Testimony in American Courts, in Proceedings, XXIV World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, Volume II 199 (2009).
  • A Lawyer’s Perspective: Ethical, Technical, and Practical Considerations Lawyers Face in Using Linguistic Experts, International Journal of Speech Language and Law (Vol 16, no. 2, 279 (2009).
  • Curtailing Coercion in Police Interrogation: The Failed Promise of Miranda v. Arizona, in Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson, eds., Handbook of Forensic Linguistics, Routledge Press, pp. 111-126 (2010).
  • Linguistic Ideology in the Workplace: The Legal Treatment in American Courts of Employers’ ‘English Only’ Policies, in Mauricio Gotti and Christopher Williams, eds., Legal Discourse Across Languages and Culturespp. 277-294 (2010)
  • Language, Power, and Identity in the Workplace: Enforcement of ‘English Only’ Rules by Employers, 9 Seattle Journal for Social Justice 233 (2010)
  • The Construction of Admissions of Fault through American Rules of Evidence: Speech, Silence and Significance in the Legal Creation of Liability, in Anne Wagner and Le Cheng, eds. Exploring Courtroom Discourse: The Language of Power and Control (2011)
  • Review, Susan Berk-Seligson, Coerced Confessions: The Discourse of Bilingual Police Interrogations, 30 Multilingua 408 (2011)
  • Adoptive Admissions and Apologies in the Law of Evidence: A Linguistic Critique, Proceedings, International Association for Forensic Linguistics Biennial Meeting 2010 pp. 12-34 (2012)
  • Reflections on my Colleague, Tom Holdych, 35 Seattle U. L. Rev. ii (2012).
  • The Performance of Gender as Reflected in American Evidence Rules: Language, Power, and the Legal Construction of Liability, 6 Gender and Language 181 (2012).
  • The Meaning of Silence in the Right to Remain Silent, in Lawrence Solan and Peter Tiersma, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law 287 (2012).
  • Review, Roger W. Shuy, The Language of Defamation Cases, 25 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 431 (2012)
  • Frontiers in Language and Law—A Global Perspective: Linguistic Diversity and Detextualization in Legal Translation, in Li Li, et al. eds., Proceedings, First International Conference on Law, Translation, and Culture (2012)
  • The Vanishing Right to Remain Silent in American Police Interrogation: A Linguistics-Based Critique, in Michael Freeman, ed., Current Issues in the Law: Language and Law, Oxford University Press (2013).
  • What’s Wrong with Pink Pearls and Cornrow Braids?: Employee Dress Codes and the Semiotic Performance of Race and Gender in the Workplace, in Anne Wagner, Sophie Cacciaguidi, and Richard Sherwin, eds., Law, Culture and Visual Semiotics, Springer Publishing (2014).
  • Lost in Translation?: Linguistic Diversity and the Elusive Quest for Plain Meaning in the Law, in Le Cheng, King Kui Sin, and Anne Wagner, eds., The Ashgate Handbook of Legal Translation (Ashgate Publishing 2014)
  • Review, Danielle Tyson, Sex, Culpability, and the Defence of Provocation and Roger Shuy, The Language of Sexual Misconduct Cases, 9 Gender and Language 319 (2015).
  • Speaking of Language and the Law, Lawrence Solan, Janet Ainsworth, and Roger Shuy, eds. (Oxford University Press 2015)
  • How We Play Games with Words in the Law, in Lawrence Solan, Janet Ainsworth, and Roger Shuy, eds., Speaking of Language and the Law (Oxford University Press 2015)
  • Legal Discourse and Legal Narratives: Adversarial versus Inquisitorial Models, 2 Language and Law/ Linguagem e Direito 37 (2015)
  • Consent and Coercion in the Law: A Discursive Analysis, Susan Ehrlich, Diana Eades, and Janet Ainsworth, eds., (Oxford University Press 2016)<
  • Culture, Cursing, and Coercion: The Impact of Police Officer Swearing in the Voluntariness of Consent to Search in Police-Citizen Interactions, in Susan Ehrlich, Diana Eades, and Janet Ainsworth, eds., Consent and Coercion in the Law: A Discursive Analysis (Oxford University Press 2016)
  • Review, Gavin Oxburgh, Trond Myklebust, Tim Grant, and Rebecca Milne (eds.) Communication in Investigative and Legal Contexts: Integrated Approaches from Forensic Psychology, Linguistics, and Law Enforcement, 23 International Journal of Speech, Language, and the law 293-299 (2016)
  • Will the ‘Haves’ Come out Ahead of the ‘Have-nots’ in International Arbitration: The Structural Dynamics of Justice in Chinese-African Commercial Arbitration Disputes, in Vijay Bhatia, Maurizio Gotti, et al., eds., International Arbitration Discourse and Practices in Asia (Routledge Press 2018)
  • Procedural Justice and the Discursive Construction of Narratives at Trial, 4 Lingue Culture Mediazioni/Languages Cultures Mediation 79-96 (2017)
  • Law and the Grammar of Judgment, in Alan Durant and Janny Leung, eds., Meaning and Power in the Language of law 259 (Cambridge University Press 2018)
  • Anatomy of a False Confession: The Linguistic and Psychological Characteristics of False Confessions and Reforms to Prevent Conviction of the Innocent, in Girolamo Tessuto, Vijay Bhatia, and Jan Engberg, eds., Frameworks for Discursive actions and Practices of the Law (2018).
  • Who Wrote This?: Modern Forensic Authorship Analysis as a Model for Valid Forensic Science, (with Patrick Juola) (forthcoming Washington University Law Review 2019)
  • Killer Apps in Legal Practice: Past, Present, and Future (forthcoming Cumberland L. Rev. 2019)