What is the CSI Effect? CSIBones Criminal minds NCISOthers?
CSI Effect the idea that the public believes that police labs can perform to the same standards that a TV lab can and produce necessary and highly technical evidence for criminal conviction. Six categories possible Within these categories is the continued debate as to whether or not the effect will actually be detrimental to a juror’s decision or not.
1. The Strong Prosecutor’s effect Jurors are not convicting as they would have before the CSI type shows started. Jurors are expecting more forensic evidence than what is available or necessary. In 2004 a juror was asked after the trial why they found the defendant not guilty. The juror asked why there were no fingerprints lifted from a pillowcase. At the time, lifting fingerprints from fabric was not possible in reality. This technique was not developed until 2011 and it was not very effective.
2. Weak Prosecutors Effect The prosecutor is affected. They are questioning potential jurors about their television viewing habits. Unnecessary evidence is being presented to jury to help explain why some evidence is not possible. Creates a greater expense and longer duration of the trial.
3. Defendant’s effect Jurors give greater credibility to forensic scientists that work in state agencies because their television counterparts are able to do so well. TV scientists have unlimited resources and script writers Real state employees do not, so they cannot accomplish what the TV actors can.
4. Producer’s effect Producers of these shows feel they are giving everyone a better understanding of what forensic science really is. They believe they are educating the public.
5. Educator’s Effect There has been an “uprising” of people in forensic science career fields. These shows are attracting more people to the forensic science field, much like medical shows have caused more people to enter medical fields and law shows have caused more people to enter law fields.
6. Police Chief’s Effect It has effected how police officers can apprehend criminals. Criminals are learning to “cover their tracks” more easily by watching and learning from crime shows. This makes it more difficult to collect incriminating evidence. Gloves, bleach, wiping things down
Is it real? Honorable Donald E Shelton, felony trial judge for 20 years Believes that it is a way for a losing attorney to complain. Only defense and prosecuting attorneys have been questioned. No jurors have been questioned.
Is it Real? Judge Shelton did a study on the jurors He polled the jurors regarding the television habits including “the programs they watched, how often and how real they thought the programs were”. He discovered that it depended on the crime committed at to how the jury would react.
Is It Real? If the case were a theft case, jurors were more likely to require fingerprints. If it were murder, they would require eyewitness testimony. Only 46% of jurors expected to see forensic evidence. Fingerprints and ballistics were most required. Both types of jurors delivered equal convictions.
Findings Judge Shelton credits three things to changing jurors: The “tech effect” The “media effect” The “CSI effect”
The Tech Affect Scientific advances have sky-rocketed over the past thirty years. In the past decade alone computer technology and internet development have allowed the public to access an infinite amount of information. Scientific discoveries have increased exponentially.
The Media Effect News media has also effected the perceptions of these discoveries in the way that they present them. Media covers one side of the story. Media may not cover stories in exact detail. Media is more concerned about the hype not the facts.
The CSI Effect We know more, have access to more Students are assimilating more information than ever before. Students are more attracted to what they want to emulate on TV.
So, Is It Real? As seen from the perspectives of the prosecuting and defending attorneys, yes. As seen from the judges’ perspective, not really, at least not in the same context. They both believe that society, jurors and criminals, are become more knowledgeable of forensic science and criminal investigation. Where society is getting their new information and the validity of it seems to be the bigger question.
What do you believe? Assignment: Interview 10 people, asking the following questions: Do you watch any crime/law/criminal shows on TV? Which ones? What role does the laboratory, forensic science and/or DNA usually take place in these shows? If you were a juror, what evidence would you want or expect to see before you would be able to decide on a verdict of a case?