From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Linguistic Profiling [Charles Clifford v Commonwealth of Kentucky]

In the 1999 case of Clifford v. Kentucky, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Charles Clifford based on linguistic profiling. In the Campbell County Circuit Court, a white police officer named Darin Smith testified that he heard a black man's voice [that of Clifford] making a drug sale in an apartment. Officer Smith was in a nearby apartment and had heard the voice through a wire worn by an undercover agent.

Charles Clifford was the only black man in the room where the sale was taking place and was thus determined to be the drug seller. Linguistic profiling has been accepted as legal in some instances and illegally discriminatory in others. The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on linguistic profiling.

For more see J. Baugh, "Racial identification by speech," American Speech, vol. 75, issue 4 (2000), pp. 362-364; and John Baugh, "Linguistic Profiling," chapter 8 in Black Linguistics, by S. Makoni et. al. [online .pdf]. See also "Charles Clifford, Appelant. Appeal from Campbell Circuit Court, Honorable Leonard L. Kowpowski, Judge. January 2000" [online at Justia US Law]; D. C. Robinson, "Clifford v. Commonwealth: admission of racil voice identification testimony, regressive or progressive?," Kentucky Law Journal, vol. 94, issue 3, article 7, 2006 [online at UKnowledge]; Lily Maya Wang, "The Legal Paradox of Linguistic Profiling," 10/1/2019, at the Law and the Senses website; and Abbie MacNeal, et al, "'Sounding Black'": The Legal Implications of Linguistic Profiling," at the website.


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Read about Campbell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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NKAA Source: American speech (periodical)
NKAA Source: Kentucky law journal (periodical)

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“Linguistic Profiling [Charles Clifford v Commonwealth of Kentucky],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 22, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-07-23 15:45:31