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Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts

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  • Robert Cooter

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  • Winand Emons

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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 science†.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2004. "Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 307-327, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:ejlwec:v:17:y:2004:i:3:p:307-327
    DOI: 10.1023/B:EJLE.0000028643.10059.9f
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
    3. Winand Emons, 2005. "Perjury versus Truth Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(3), pages 392-392, September.
    4. Hurwicz, Leonid, 1973. "The Design of Mechanisms for Resource Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 1-30, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Bernardo, Antonio E & Talley, Eric & Welch, Ivo, 2000. "A Theory of Legal Presumptions," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-49, April.
    7. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2003. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(2), pages 259-259, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Winand Emons & Joel Sobel, 1991. "On the Effectiveness of Liability Rules when Agents are not Identical," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 375-390.
    10. Claude Fluet, 2003. "Enforcing Contracts: Should Courts Seek the Truth?," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(1), pages 1-49, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Winand Emons, 2005. "Perjury versus Truth Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(3), pages 392-392, September.
    2. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2003. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(2), pages 259-259, June.
    3. Cooter, Robert & Garoupa, Nuno, 2000. "The Virtuous Circle of Distrust: A Mechanism to Deter Bribes and Other Cooperative Crimes," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt83c0k3wc, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.

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