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“You Wouldn't Take A Seven-Year-Old And Ask Him All These Questions”: Jurors' Use Of Practical Reasoning In Supporting Their Arguments

John F. Manzo

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In ordinary conversation, speakers are often called on to defend their assertions. In talk that takes place in institutional settings, speakers must often account for their claims as well. This study concerns the methods of argumentative support employed by participants in a particular institutional setting: jury deliberations. Micro-interactional analysis of transcripts of two actual deliberations—using the theore tical and methodological perspectives of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis-reveals that when jurors present defenses or accounts of their positions, they often reference mundane experience and practical reasoning. Jurors do not, then, merely weigh strictly “legal” considerations. Three of the jurors' discursive methods are scrutinized: Normative assertions, claims of expertise, and declarations of knowledge. These techniques serve not only to establish “evidence” in support of a juror's position but also to deflect other jurors' disagreement