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5.22.2005

csi, in which the s stands for stupid

Apparently jurors now require forensic evidence to convict, according to the WaPo:

Prosecutors say jurors are telling them they expect forensic evidence in criminal cases, just like on their favorite television shows, including 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.' In real life, forensic evidence is not collected at every crime scene, either because criminals clean up after themselves or because of a shortage in resources. Yet, increasingly, jurors are reluctant to convict someone without it, a phenomenon the criminal justice community is calling the 'CSI effect.'

'There is an increased and unrealistic expectation that every crime scene will yield plentiful forensic evidence,' said Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel, who talked to jurors after the drug trial. 'As a result, we spend time now explaining to juries the absence of evidence.' And when interviewing potential jurors, Sengel said, he and his team of prosecutors have 'recently taken to reminding them that this is not 'CSI.'

The shows have had an effect on courtrooms nationwide, according to lawyers, judges and jurors. Some prosecutors are calling experts to the witness stand simply to explain to juries why forensic evidence might be absent. Defense lawyers are exploiting the lack of scientific proof to plant doubt, even when there are eyewitness accounts, confessions or other compelling evidence.

Leon Dempsky understands the influence that crime shows can have on juries. The Arlington defense lawyer says he will tweak his closing arguments based on rudimentary knowledge of forensics that jurors might have picked up from watching television.

"If someone breaks into a house, and the police don't have the suspect's fingerprints, I'm going to argue that there are no fingerprints," Dempsky said. "If a woman is raped, but there are no bruises and no DNA, then I'm going to argue that, too."

3 Comments:

  • At 10:59 AM , Anonymous Mary said...

    I recently was up for jury duty and this was very much on the minds of both the prosecutor and the defense attorney. They both stressed exactly this subject repeatedly during their review of the potential jurors. I think its a valid point. With all the forensic shows out there, people have come to expect the same thing in real life. They forget that its just tv and that most of the stuff they do on CSI isn't possible anyway.

     
  • At 11:31 AM , Blogger gwenda said...

    Mostly, I'm disturbed that people really believe that government csi techs have access to technology that mostly doesn't exist anyway! And even if it does, is so expensive not many would have access to it.

    Also, are all defense attorneys willing to appear this slimy in print?

     
  • At 3:36 PM , Blogger yournamehere said...

    Never underestimate the stupidity of the average jury. Most people, those with jobs for instance, avoid jury duty like the plague.

     

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