Lawyers’ antics and nonverbal impoliteness in Nigerian court documents: An example of Mosojo versus Oyetayo
Unlike the inquisitorial court system, the adversarial court requires that counsels willfully resort to face-aggravating impolite non/verbal acts through the instrumentation of relevant court papers as well as the use of professional privileges at the cross-examination phase to the detriment of the opposition, thereby elevating the quest for victory above fact-finding and the dispensation of justice. The study evaluates counsels’ impolite nonverbal communicative behaviour and professional antics which are complementary to verbal impoliteness. Anchored on Watts’ (2003) theory of relational works and Culpeper’s (1996) impoliteness super-strategies, the study drew fifteen (15) purposively selected examples, with preponderance of underlying nonverbal faceaggravating behaviour by professional courtroom participants, from archived pretrial documents and transcripts of proceedings in Mosojo versus Oyetayo (2012). Against the existence of inquisitorial and fact-finding alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms, the disputants chose the adversarial Western-like court system, with a penchant for impolite non/verbal behaviour, for the resolution of the Obasinkin chieftaincy dispute in a Nigerian community. Findings revealed that counsels’ antics and nonverbal impolite behaviour are not only embedded in some legal documents, but also manifested in the form of time-wasting, willful absence from court and embedded presupposing boobytrap arguments that were meant to frustrate the opposition and influence the course of justice. Litigants are advised to explore the ADR alternative while judges should regulate the courtroom use of language to prevent the miscarriage of justice.
Keywords: Lawyers antics, court documents, Nigeria, Mosojo vs Oyetayo, face-aggravation, impoliteness, nonverbal acts