42 Duke L.J. 776 (1992-1993)
Credence, Character, and the Rules of Evidence: Seeing through the Liar's Tale

handle is hein.journals/duklr42 and id is 802 raw text is: ESSAYS
CREDENCE, CHARACTER,
AND THE RULES OF EVIDENCE:
SEEING THROUGH THE LIAR'S TALE
H. RICHARD UVILLERt
0, what a goodly outside falsehood hathl'
INTRODUCTION
The trial of any case in the adversary mode, but especially
criminal cases, relies heavily on the skill of a jury to recognize
honesty and dishonesty in the accounts of witnesses. Most facts
are proved by testimony. Even in those cases where documentary
or physical evidence or the defendant's confession is available to
assist the factfinder, the human recital-viva voce-is often crucial
to the establishment of its authenticity or significance. Accordingly,
we have developed elaborate forms and devices to assist our lay
jurors in what is, under the most favorable circumstances, a highly
problematic undertaking. Indeed, the adversary trial might be
fairly described as a structured process for the determination of
the credibility of strangers, many of whom will, for one reason or
another, try to deceive those who rely upon their word. Our faith
in the adversary system-still a significant element in the determi-
nation  of guilt--depends in large measure on           our confidence
t Arthur Levitt Professor of Law, Columbia University. The author expresses ap-
preciation for comments on an earlier draft to Professors Ronald Allen, Kent
Greenawalt, John Leubsdorf, and James Liebman. And thanks for research assistance,
especially in .the psychological literature, to Kathrin Wanner. For support during summer
work, I am grateful to the Walter E. Meyer Fund.
1. WILUAM SHAKESPEARE, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE act 1, sc. 3, line 101, in
THE COMPLETE WORKS (Stanley Wells & Gary Taylor gen. eds., 1988) (1600).
2. Settlement, the prevailing mode of disposing of criminal as well as civil cases,
relies in significant part on the contemplation of an adversary forum. And the general
uncertainty of when a cause in dispute will require resolution by trial imbues the adver-
sary mode with major impact on the thinking of litigators. Then too, to the general pub-

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