In Speaking of Crime: The Language of Criminal Justice (by Lawrence Solan and Peter Tiersma), chapter 9, how did linguistic analysis influence the court of appeals decision in the Jawdat Abdul Rahman case?

Linguistic analysis influenced the court of appeals decision in the Jawdat Abdul Rahman case by discovering that Rahman was mainly repeating what the hitman told him due to his limited English ability. In other words, it was difficult to take his words literally as Rahman did not have a thorough grasp on the concept of those words.

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The case of Jawdat Abdel Rahman, a storeowner in Chicago, is used to illustrate the importance of what are called "corroborating circumstances" in cases involving the solicitation of a crime. Rahman, who had purchased some stolen property from a man (known as Haik) who then never delivered it to him, stated that he wanted to kill the man and offered a significant amount of money to a friend to do it. The friend was an FBI informant and informed his handlers of the situation. The FBI then sent a man posing as a hitman to Rahman, who was less interested in having Haik killed than in getting his money back. Nevertheless, he was convicted of "soliciting theft by violence"a felonybased on a recorded conversation he had with the FBI "hitman."

The decision was overruled by an appeals court, who said that, given the totality of the circumstances and Rahman's overall actions, that his words should not be taken literally. The court especially pointed to Rahman's broken English, noting that he tended only to repeat what the hitman said to him. In other words, they conducted an analysis of the language used in supposedly soliciting a crime to determine that no solicitation had taken place. The literal language of the conversation suggested that Rahman wanted Haik killed, but the circumstance did not corroborate this conclusion.

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