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Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts

  • 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 qt35j9s08h.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt35j9s08h
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  1. Winand Emons, 2001. "Perjury versus Truth-Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony," Diskussionsschriften dp0103, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  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. 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. 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.
  5. Hurwicz, Leonid, 1973. "The Design of Mechanisms for Resource Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 1-30, May.
  6. Claude Fluet, 2003. "Enforcing Contracts: Should Courts Seek the Truth?," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(1), pages 49-, March.
  7. 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.
  8. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2000. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0211, Econometric Society.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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