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Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts [technical version]

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  • Cooter, Robert D.
  • Emons, Winand

Abstract

In trials witnesses often gain by slanting their testimony. The law tries to elicit the truth from witnesses by cross-examination under threat of criminal prosecution for perjury. As a truth-revealing mechanism, perjury law is crude and ineffective. We develop the mathematical form of a perfect truth-revealing mechanism, which exactly offsets the gain from slanted testimony by the risk of a possible sanction. Implementing an effective truth-revealing mechanism requires a witness to certify accuracy by posting bond. If events subsequently prove that the testimony was inaccurate, the witness forfeits the bond. By providing superior incentives for telling the truth, truth-bonding could combat some distortions by factual witnesses and interested experts, including “junk scienceâ€.

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Paper provided by Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics in its series Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt3587v9sv.

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Date of creation: 30 Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt3587v9sv

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  1. Michael J. Mandel, 1999. "Going for the Gold: Economists as Expert Witnesses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 113-120, Spring.
  2. Emons, Winand, 1994. "The provision of environmental protection measures under incomplete information: An introduction to the theory of mechanism design," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 479-491, December.
  3. Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Law and Economics of the Economic Expert Witness," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 91-99, Spring.
  4. Bengt Holmstrom & Roger B. Myerson, 1981. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Discussion Papers 495, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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