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Perjury versus Truth-Revelation: Quantity or Quality of Testimony

  • Winand Emons

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.

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Paper provided by Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft in its series Diskussionsschriften with number dp0103.

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Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0103
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  1. Emons, Winand & Sobel, Joel, 1991. "On the Effectiveness of Liability Rules when Agents Are Not Identical," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 375-90, April.
  2. 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.
  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. Cooter, Robert D. & Emons, Winand, 2000. "Truth-Bonding and Other Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt35j9s08h, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Robert Thornton & John Ward, 1999. "The Economist in Tort Litigation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 101-112, Spring.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2000. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0211, Econometric Society.
  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.
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