Elements of a computational model for multi-party discourse: The turn-taking behavior of Supreme Court justices

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Abstract

This work explores computational models of multi-party discourse, using transcripts from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments. The turn-taking behavior of participants is treated as a supervised sequence-labeling problem and modeled using first- and second-order conditional random fields (CRFs). We specifically explore the hypothesis that discourse markers and personal references provide important features in such models. Results from a sequence prediction experiment demonstrate that incorporating these two types of features yields significant improvements in accuracy. Our experiments are couched in the broader context of developing tools to support legal scholarship, although we see other natural language processing applications as well.

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