First expert is Dr. French. He is located in his laboratory in York, the UK. A bit of technology tweaking in the courtroom for volume of speaker phone. The audio connection is working, not sure if the video is. West asks the court to swear in the witness. Witness is sworn. West asks the witness to introduce himself.
Dr. French's CV has been filed with the court and a copy has been provided to Mantei. West asks if this is current, and for the witness to describe length of experience. Forensic work since the 1980's, also teaches at university. What is your formal education and training in human speech? Post grad in human linguistics .... see CV, pretty impressive. Doesn't mean he isn't a BS artist (see global warming), but he doesn't get these positions without having substantive experience. Has testified in court more than 200 times. Has handled over 5,000 cases. Many venues, internationally. Lab handles 100-200 cases per year. Claims to be even handed in analysis, about 70-80% is for prosecution. The courts he has testified in are New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Netherlands. Any cases in the US? Only two that he recalls. One is a civil case, not yet in trial, the other is an internal investigation internal to a private organization. Has given training to FBI. Supervises doctoral candidates involved in forensic speech analysis. Dr. French is published, and has undertaken research that has been published. Dr. French asked to estimate how many times he has been published, he says "going on towards 30." West asks about the personnel at the lab, seven people including Dr. French. One of the seven is the manager, the rest are scientific staff. West asks about editorial responsibilities "Speech, Language and the Law," and on the board of a Spanish journal of speech sciences, and also involved in bringing linguistics to the general public. West asks about making presentations - Dr. French describes this as part of his professional development. West asks about keeping up to date with new methodologies.
Now get into meat - are you familiar with the standards and guidelines in this field? Yes. They are varied by jurisdiction. West doesn't probe into details. West focuses on voice comparison analysis. French describes the process, first the administrative - cataloging, method of delivery, form of evidence. Next step is to re-record contents to a computer server, stored as standard audio data files. next step is to decide if the material is suitable for the purpose for which it has been submitted. West asks if there are guidelines for this threshold inquiry. Yes. background noise, contamination, bandwidth of signal, duration, adequate representation of speech sounds, just how distinctive or unusual are the speech patterns of the person. What they can't do, and won't do, is specify an absolute minimum of sound quality either as S/N or number of words, or seconds of recording. Reason is that a person having unusual speech patterns can be found with poor quality samples. Sometimes elimination can be done with a very small amount of data. Generally, downplays the per se importance of sound quality and sound duration.
Good expert. Makes clear the varilables that can play in forming an opinion. He's identified something here that none of the other experts have mentioned - and it is a point that cuts against per se rejection of the 911 call for reasons of short duration or "poor quality."
West goes on to evaluation of sounds that are shouts or contain shouts. Dr. French says yes. Completely different vocal settings when they shout, especially if genuinely shouting (not just talking loud). About 10-15% of cases are rejected as unsuitable for evaluation. Maybe 15% understates, because some cases are rejected based on a verbal description, e.g., a bank robber shouting demands; rejections happen before tapes are even submitted for analysis. West reiterates that shouting or screaming are not suitable. French has never run into a case where screaming was attempted to be compared with normal voice. Are you aware of any studies in this vein? Dr. French says he is not aware of any studies that address that issue. It is pretty much axiomatic that you cannot compare screaming with speech. West asks if it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to analyze screams? Yes. West asks what about screams under duress, distress cries. Dr. French has a student working on this, including death cries, fear of death. Student compared this sort of utterance with normal speech of the same person. West asks the result of the research. Dr. French says the study wasn't aimed at that question, but the sound of stressed people is unpredictable, so it is not reliable to work back to what they would sound like, normally.
Very interesting technical information.