Janet Ainsworth

John D. Eshelman Professor of Law
Curriculum Vitae


Sullivan Hall 428
(206) 398-4017


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


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


Advanced Torts (TORT-305-A)
Torts (TORT-105-B)


Professor Ainsworth joined the staff of the Seattle-King County Public Defender Association in 1980, serving in the appeals and felony divisions and as training coordinator from 1985 to 1988, when she joined this faculty. She served as Associate Dean for Faculty Development from 2001 to 2005, and has been honored by students three times with teaching awards.

Her scholarship has engaged a variety of issues, including the application of linguistics research to legal issues, criminal procedure, feminist critical theory, juvenile law, comparative law, imperial Chinese law, and law and social science. She is the author of numerous book chapters and articles appearing both in peer-reviewed social science journals and in law reviews including the Yale Law Journal, the Cornell Law Review, and the Washington University Law Quarterly. Her articles have been reprinted in five anthologies.

In addition to scholarly writing and presentations, Professor Ainsworth is active in a number of other professional endeavors. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Criminal Justice Section and as chair of the Law and Anthropology Section of the AALS, has served on several committees of the Law and Society Association, as well as Secretary and member of the Executive Committee of the International Association for Forensic Linguists. Her pro bono activities include serving on the Board of Directors of the Seattle-King County Public Defender, writing amicus curiae briefs to the Washington State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court, lecturing at dozens of Continuing Legal Education seminars, serving as a member of numerous state criminal justice task forces, and serving as consultant to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, from which she received its Outstanding Service Award in recognition of her contributions.


Book Chapters

The Meaning of Silence in the Right to Remain Silent, in Lawrence Solan and Peter Tiersma, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Forensic Linguistics (forthcoming 2010).

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.,Legal Visual Semiotics, Springer Publishing (expected publication 2010).

Linguistic Ideology versus Linguistic Practice: The Cognitive and Cultural Challenges of Code-Switching to "English-Only" Rules in American Workplaces, in Proceedings, Tempus Programme, Curriculum, Language, and Law, University of Zagreb Press (forthcoming 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 (forthcoming 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).

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 Paul Robinson, et al., eds., Criminal Law Conversations, Oxford University Press (2009)

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).

Re-imaging Childhood and Reconstructing the Legal Order: The Case for Abolishing the Juvenile Court, in Readings in Juvenile Justice Administration (Barry Feld ed., 1999).

Confucian Culture Wars, in Books on Law (1999) (reviewing Melissa Macaulay, Social Power and Legal Culture: Litigation Masters in Late Imperial China (Stanford University Press 1999)).

In a Different Register: The Pragmatics of Powerlessness in Police Interrogation, in The Miranda Debate: Law, Justice and Crime Control (Richard A. Leo et al. eds., 1998).

Achieving the Promise of Justice for Juveniles: A Call for the Abolition of Juvenile Court, in Governing Childhood (Anne McGillivray ed., 1997).

Criminal Trial Practice and Techniques, in Washington Lawyer Practice Manual xvii-1–xvii9 (Seattle-King County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division 1989) (co-author).

Appellate Review of Decisions in District and Municipal Courts, in Criminal Law and Procedure 1-1–1 (University of Washington Continuing Legal Education 1987).


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, forthcoming 2010).

Asking Jurors to Do the Impossible: A Response to Peter Tiersma, 5 TENN. J. OF LAW & POL'Y 226 (Winter 2009).

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 International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law 1 (2008).

Linguistic Features of Police Culture and the Coercive Impact of Police Officer Swearing in Police-Citizen Street Interaction, 1 Register and Context 1 (2008).

Linguistic Ignorance or Linguistic Ideology?: Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Issues in Police Interrogation Rules, 51 Tex. Linguistic Forum 104 (2007).

Curses, Swearing, and Obscene Language in Police-Citizen Interactions: Why Lawyers and Judges Should Care, Proceedings of the 2nd European IAFL Conference on Forensic Linguistics/Language and the Law, 315 M. Teresa Turell, Maria Spassova, and Jordi Cicres eds. (2007).

Linguistics as a Knowledge Domain in the Law, 54 Drake L. Rev. 651 (2006).

On Academic Discrimination, 11 Cardozo Women’s L. J. 497 (2005).

Law in (Case)books, Law (School) in Action: The Case for Casebook Reviews, 20 Seattle U. L. Rev. 271 (1997).

Categories and Culture: On the "Rectification of Names" in Comparative Law, 82 Cornell L. Rev. 19 (1996).

On Seeing Chinese Law From the Chinese Point of View: An Appreciative Look at the Scholarly Career of Professor William Jones, 74 Wash. U. L.Q. 547 (1996).

Balancing Juvenile Justice, 26 Contemp. Soc. 84 (1997) (book review).

The Effectiveness of the Court in Protecting the Rights of Juveniles in Delinquency, 6 J. Future Child. 64 (1996).

Youth Justice in a Unified Court: A Response to Critics of Juvenile Court Abolition, 36 B.C. L. Rev. 927 (1995).

Trial Language: Differential Discourse Processing and Discursive Formation, 2 Forensic Linguistics 195 (1995) (book review).

Malign Neglect: Race, Crime and Punishment in America, Champion (1995) (book review).

Trail Language: Differential Discourse Processing and Discursive Formation, 2 Forensic Linguistics 195 (1995).

In a Different Register: The Pragmatics of Powerlessness in Police Interrogation, 103 Yale L.J. 259 (1993).

Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse, 37 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 259 (1992) (book review).

Interpreting Sacred Texts: Preliminary Reflections on Constitutional Discourse in China, 43 Hastings L.J. 273 (1992).

Re-imagining Childhood and Reconstructing the Legal Order: The Case for Abolishing Juvenile Court, 69 N.C. L. Rev. 1083 (1991), reprinted in The Child, the Family, and the State (1994).