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Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts

  • Robert Cooter


  • Winand Emons


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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Article provided by Springer in its journal European Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 307-327

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Handle: RePEc:kap:ejlwec:v:17:y:2004:i:3:p:307-327
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  1. Emons,Winand & Sobel,Joel, 1988. "On the effectiveness of liability rules when agents are not identical," Discussion Paper Serie A 212, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Antonio Bernardo & Eric L. Talley & Ivo Welch, 1999. "A Theory of Legal Presumptions," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm118, Yale School of Management.
  3. Hurwicz, Leonid, 1973. "The Design of Mechanisms for Resource Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 1-30, May.
  4. Claude Fluet, 2002. "Enforcing Contracts: Should Courts Seek the Truth?," Cahiers de recherche 0202, CIRPEE.
  5. 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-, September.
  6. 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-, June.
  7. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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