IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Witness intimidation

  • Brendan O'Flaherty


    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

  • Rajiv Sethi


    (Barnard College, Columbia University)

Witness intimidation is a fundamental threat to the rule of law. It also involves significant strategic complexity and two-sided uncertainty: a criminal cannot know whether his threat will effectively deter a witness from testifying, and a witness cannot know whether the threat will in fact be carried out. We model this interaction and explore the manner in which equilibrium rates of intimidation, testimony, and conviction respond to changes in prosecutorial effectiveness, police-community relations, and witness protection programs. An increase in prosecutorial effectiveness raises the incentives for criminals to threaten witnesses but also makes these threats less credible. Sometimes the rise in threats will be large enough to drive down the rate of conviction, with the paradoxical outcome that better prosecutors may convict fewer criminals. Direct attempts to reduce witness tampering may also prove counterproductive. When the harm faced by a witness itself depends on whether or not the criminal is convicted, communities can be trapped in equilibria with collective silence: no witness testifies because none expects others to testify.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found ( [301 Moved Permanently]--> If this is indeed the case, please notify (Discussion Paper Coordinator)

Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0708-07.

in new window

Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0708-07
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1022 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027
Phone: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-8059
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0708-07. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Discussion Paper Coordinator)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.