Knowing the truth and being able to tell when someone is lying would make an attorney’s job much easier. You need not speculate as to who is telling the truth or trust your “gut” when it comes to piecing together what actually happened. Speaking and hearing the truth would make negotiations and mediations much more straightforward.

Researchers at the University of Michigan – Flint are creating software to help separate those telling lies from those telling the truth, according to The Michigan Daily. By using videos of trials and legal hearings Rada Mihalcea, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, and Mihai Burzo, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, lead an effort to code lie-detecting software that can flag deception because of a speaker’s words and gestures.

The research started by looking at 120 video clips of trials to add a real-life element to the software. Mihalcea told the newspaper that people could be videoed lying in a lab but it doesn’t match the high stakes found in a courtroom where lives and fortunes may be at stake.

The videos include testimony from both defendants and witnesses which were compared to the court’s verdict. If the testimony contradicted the verdict then witnesses were deemed deceptive. Researchers decided half of the clips featured deceptive subjects.

Other video clips used were from The Innocence Project, an organization that looks at cases where criminal defendants were convicted without the benefit of DNA testing. Their goal is to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals with the help of new evidence. Researchers say those who were freed told the truth although they were perceived as lying during the investigation and trial processes.

Researchers analyzed body language looking for common behaviors among those believed to be deceptive. They found;

  • 70% percent of deceptive subjects looked directly at the questioner when giving answers; and
  • 40% of the deceptive subjects gestured with both hands.

Mihalcea claims it’s able to detect deceptive behaviors with 75% accuracy based on the 120 videos studied.

If the software can reach a point where it’s accurate, reliable and affordable, it could have a major impact on the legal world. Negotiations and mediations could cut to the chase once it’s known the actual facts of a situation and the parties could focus on the actions and payments needed to bring a case to a resolution. Until that day comes you’ll need to rely on your wits, experience and your “gut.”