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Perjury versus Truth-Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony

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  • Winand Emons

Abstract

In trials witnesses often slant their testimony to advance their interests.To obtain truthful testimony, courts rely on perjury rules. We show that perjury rules are not truth-revealing and we derive a truth-revealing mechanism for the same set of restrictions under which perjury rules operate. If the judge uses a truth-revealing mechanism, he will get less testimony than under perjury because the defendant will not present a witness with unfavorable news; however, testimony is of higher quality. We show that a court striving for precision prefers truth-revelation to perjury. If the court is rational in the Bayesian sense, chances for the defendant to prevail are the same under perjury and truth-revelation from an ex ante point of view. Truth-revelation thus dominates perjury even when the lower quantity of testimony is taken into account.

Suggested Citation

  • Winand Emons, 2001. "Perjury versus Truth-Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony," Diskussionsschriften dp0103, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  • Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0103
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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. Roger B. Myerson, 1983. "Bayesian Equilibrium and Incentive-Compatibility: An Introduction," Discussion Papers 548, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. Lipman Barton L. & Seppi Duane J., 1995. "Robust Inference in Communication Games with Partial Provability," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 370-405, August.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
    8. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2004. "Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, pages 307-327.
    9. Robert Thornton & John Ward, 1999. "The Economist in Tort Litigation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 101-112, Spring.
    10. Daughety, Andrew F & Reinganum, Jennifer F, 2000. "On the Economics of Trials: Adversarial Process, Evidence, and Equilibrium Bias," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 365-394, October.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2004. "Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, pages 307-327.
    2. Matthew Braham & Friedel Bolle, 2006. "A difficulty with oaths: On trust, trustworthiness, and signalling," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 219-232, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    litigation process; witness; truth-revelation; mechanism design; perjury rule;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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