This Article seeks to comprehensively articulate the meaning, role, and importance of truth in courts by drawing upon empirical and theoretical scholarship from philosophy, economics, social science, psychology, political science, ethics, and jurisprudence, in addition to more traditional legal sources such as United States Supreme Court decisions. It is frequently said that trials are a search for truth. But as insiders to the judicial system know, if this is so, then it is a meaning of truth that differs from what truth means in any other context. And exposing this definitional dissonance, in turn exposes that the legitimacy of the courts rests on an eroding foundation, as courts increasingly are not doing what the community believes courts are doing. This Article argues that when courts do not account for lay perceptions of courts as institutions that primarily value accuracy in decision making, courts jeopardize the legitimacy of courts as public institutions.

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