Blawgletter has at times compared deposing witnesses to barbarism. You compel a person to sit in a room of strangers and — often on camera — force him to answer all relevant questions. Normal people fear the process, despite their lawyer’s assurances that the witness needs only to tell the truth.
Yet some witnesses lie. And trial lawyers love liars. Because, at trial with a jury in the box, showing that a witness lied scores big points.
What if we could resort to physical violence against civil witnesses to force them to confess? Blawgletter supposes that we wouldn’t get higher-quality testimony. We’d just elicit different lies, ones that reflect what the witness thinks we want him to say. The same impulse that prompts witnesses to lie in the first place — self-preservation — would simply produce a different calculus in the witness.
Perhaps waterboarding and other violent means of questioning witnesses eliminate lying, but how could you tell? And hasn’t torture historically aimed not at getting the truth but at coercing (often false) confessions?
No, Blawgletter will make do, thank you very much, with proving to a neutral trier of fact that lying witnesses lied. You know — the American way.