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

  • Cooter, Robert D.
  • Emons, Winand

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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt3587v9sv
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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. Holmstrom, Bengt & Myerson, Roger B, 1983. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1799-819, November.
  3. Winand Emons, 1993. "The Provision of Environmental Protection Measures under Incomplete Information: An Introduction to the Theory of Mechanism Design," Diskussionsschriften dp9310, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  4. 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.
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