Blog #1: A Game Theoretic Analysis of the Hearsay Rule

Our research aims to analyze the Hearsay Rule from a game theoretic perspective. Our objective is to understand how exceptions to the Hearsay Rule may or may not contribute to the ability of judges and juries reaching a just decision, with emphasis on which Hearsay evidence is incorporated into the fact pattern and information available in any given case.

The Hearsay Rule has a rich tradition in common law and in both criminal and civil jurisprudence. The need to provide a fair trial while providing sufficient evidence to a judge or jury may be mutually incompatible. In the case of The Hearsay Rule, the presentation of hearsay evidence may enrich the information content of case or may conceivably diminish that content given the quality and veracity of that evidence.

In order to balance efficiency and equity it would be highly desirable to perform a cost and benefit analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the inclusion of hearsay information among the facts of the case. Although it is impossible to determine whether the hearsay evidence is correct of incorrect it is possible to analyze, from a probabilistic standpoint, the likely impact of creating irreversible error in judicial decision making. The techniques of Applied Game Theory are uniquely suitable for this type of analysis.

Introducing information into a strategic decision making environment is well supported in Game Theory. For example, when economists specify the characteristics of a game’s equilibrium, with respect to existence identification and robustness. Research employed will investigate the application of concepts including cheaptalk, babbling equilibrium, signaling, screening, and Bayesian perfection. Special attention will be applied to the most common exceptions to The Hearsay Rule in light of their implied tradeoff between efficiency and equity.

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