Margaret M. van Naerssen, PhD, (Applied Linguistics) is an Expert in Second Language Development and Language Assessment, as well as Language in Social Contexts (sociolinguistics). Since 1997, she has done consultant work in forensic contexts, focusing primarily on cases involving non-native English speakers.
Dr. van Naerssen brings her over 50 years of world-wide experience (US and 47 other countries) to legal cases involving non-native English speakers. She has strong language skills in Portuguese and Spanish, and a range of functional skills in Dutch, French, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and some exposure to German, Malay, Cantonese, Russian, Samoan, Arabic, and Urdu.
This gives her valuable insights on what it is like to be a non-native speaker and to function in different cultures. She has also specialized in workplace and professional communications.
Since the early 1990s she’s also been an English language specialist in short gov’t assignments:
- US Department of State
- US Agency for Internat’l Development
- US Fulbright Commission
- Asia Foundation
in South America, Asia, North Africa, Europe, and independent consultancies: Taiwan and France.
Promotion of Communications across Linguistics and Courts/ Law Enforcement
- Attended semester-long citizens' police academy course
- In Communication of Rights Group: Development Guidelines for Communicating Rights to Non-native Speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales, and the US, (e.g. Miranda Rights / Waivers)
- Made selective significant presentations at:
- FBI Academy and Florida Association of Defense Lawyers CLE
- Pennsylvania State Trial Judges Conference (opening plenary speaker)
- Smithsonian Institute in forensic sciences series
- Organized Panel: Applied Linguists meeting judge & state supreme court Interpreting
Litigation Support - Dr. van Naerssen has primarily consulted and testified in Forensic Linguistic cases involving non-native English speakers. She’s worked with both defense and prosecution primarily in criminal case including:
- Terrorist conspiracy
- Police Interrogations
- Illegal Arrests
- Money Laundering
- Telecom Fraud
Civil cases have included violations of civil rights (including communication of Miranda Rights/ Waivers): prison treatment and Federal Individual Disabilities Act. Also, contract and Plain Language guidelines, slander, medical malpractice.
Dr. van Naerssen has worked primarily on cases in Daubert jurisdictions with one Frye exception (Pennsylvania). Other 8 state cases (Daubert) have been in Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia (mixed Daubert & Frye).
Federal cases in which she has provided expert support have been in the US District Court jurisdictions of Western District of Oklahoma, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, District of Southern California, Southern District of New York, District Court in Waco, Texas, and the District Court of Hawai’i.
Three federal cases also involved the US Military, two proceeding to hearings and one to a court martial trial (US Navy: San Diego and Great Lakes). Another federal case involved the US Department of Labor.
Dr. van Naerssen has testified in 5 federal courts, in hearings, depositions stipulated by judge, and in bench trials.
This is a summary report on a sting operation case I worked on as an applied linguist. In it the target was a non-native English speaker with a beginner level of English proficiency. The sting setting was a discount store. The undercover officer attempted to persuade a store employee to buy jugs of alleged stolen liquid detergent for sale in the store.