Case Examples

Cases described here have been fully adjudicated: they are officially closed as far as the justice system is concerned. It is the policy of ALIAS Technology LLC to not discuss cases that are being investigated, are in trial or are under appeal involving anything in which linguistic evidence may be involved. We value both our client’s privacy and the ethical rules for fairness in the justice system.

In our case descriptions, we do not name parties, law enforcement agencies, law firms, etc. We provide case examples so that people who are new to linguistic evidence can understand the breadth of cases in which language can be useful evidence.

Author Identification

A suicide note is found on a home computer during the investigation of a healthy 28-year-old man’s death by injection. It’s 1992; digital forensics for a Mac has not been invented yet, and the home computer is a Mac. ALIAS Syntactic Author Identification analysis excluded the decedent as the author of the suicide notes, but identified his roommate as the author. The roommate confessed, on the witness stand, to authoring the suicide note.

A male student accuses a university dean of writing a defamatory email about him to a faculty member who subsequently dies. The dean denies writing the email, and the recipient cannot confirm this denial. The university consulted ALIAS Technology. The student hired a stylistics expert. ALIAS Syntactic Author Identification analysis excluded the dean as the author of the email, against the stylistics expert’s conclusion that the dean authored the email. Eventually, forensic digital evidence proved that the email never existed, confirming the ALIAS analysis.

A man is accused of, and fired for, sending racist emails to his supervisor. The man insists that he did not author the emails, that anyone could have walked into his open cubicle, used his computer which he left on during the workday, and sent the emails. He sues the government for his pension. ALIAS Syntactic Author Identification analysis identified the man as the author of the emails. He withdrew his lawsuit against the government.

A soon-to-be ex-husband is accused of kidnapping and rape of his estranged wife. During the period of time in which the kidnapping allegedly occurred, over twenty text messages are sent from her phone. The wife claims that her husband took possession of her phone and sent the messages. The defense consulted ALIAS Technology; ALIAS Syntactic Author Identification demonstrates that the wife, not the husband, authored the text messages sent during the time of the alleged kidnapping. Prosecution consulted with a stylistics expert for rebuttal. Prosecution dropped the charges of kidnapping and rape.

Text-Typing

An executive at a multinational insurance company finds several anonymous, typed and potentially threatening communications on his desk, over several weeks. Human resources contacts local law enforcement. Local law enforcement consults ALIAS to use ThreatAssess, which classified the notes as real threats. Local police initiate an investigation, uncovering two conspiracy-to-murder plots.

A suicide note is found next to a woman’s body by her boyfriend. He has a criminal record and becomes the chief suspect of the possible homicide. Prosecution theories that he authored the suicide note as a means to cover up the homicide. Defense consults ALIAS Technology. ALIAS SNARE classified the note as a real suicide note. Emboldened by this result, defense requests additional discovery from the medical examiner’s office. An autopsy listing overdose is discovered, confirming the SNARE result.

InterTextuality

A restauranteur is congratulated on his new expansion to a neighboring state. The restauranteur has no other location and investigates, finding out that a former manager has opened a competing restaurant. The manager denies that his recipes, workflow operations and training manual are derived from his former employer. The restauranteur consults ALIAS Technology. Using ALIAS InterTexter, it is shown that the former manager’s recipes, workflow operations and training manual are closer to the restauranter’s intellectual property than can be expected based on industry norms. The former manager finally admits to stealing his former employer’s intellectual property.

A trademark is disputed. Counsel for the plaintiff hires an academic linguist who opines that the two marks are not strikingly similar, although they differ in only two of seven sounds. The academic linguist offers no analysis beyond his opinion as a linguist. Counsel for the defense consults ALIAS Technology; using ALIAS InterTexter, it is shown that the overlap between the two trademarks is consistent with a ruling of strikingly similar by judges in cases with trademarks that have similar structure and meaning to the disputed trademark. Counsel for the plaintiff withdraws the academic linguist.

Linguistic Profiling

During the sale of an extremely valuable technology for environmental protection during disasters, the potential buyers receive a business letter. The business letter claims that the technology does not actually work, in specific detail about its engineering. The owner is able to complete the sale, but is later sued by a former employee for his portion of profits from the sale. The owner consults ALIAS Technology; Syntactic Author Identification shows that only one of the engineers could have authored the business letter, and Linguistic Profiling suggests that the author is a non-native English speaker. The identified engineer is not a native speaker of English.

A corporation receives notice from the Security Exchange Commission that it will be investigated on the basis of two letters, both anonymous. The corporation consults ALIAS Technology to find out what can be determined about the letters: if they are authored by the same person and what kind of person. ALIAS Technology reports that the letters were not authored by the same person, and Linguistic Profiling suggests that one author is male and the other female. DNA results later confirms the linguistic profiling.