Copyright (c) 2007 New England School of Law
New England Law Review
SYMPOSIUM: THE CSI EFFECT: THE TRUE EFFECT OF CRIME SCENE TELEVISION ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM: UNTANGLING THE CSI EFFECT IN CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE: CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, REASONABLE DOUBT, AND JURY MANIPULATION
41 New Eng. L. Rev. 533
"Perry Mason" moments have captivated courtrooms all over the country. These are moments in which jaws drop open, gasps of air are heard, and lawyers on the other side cringe with disappointment. While these dramatic courtroom scenes have occurred, the vast majority of cases are far less spectacular. Investigation of crime scenes and the processing of scientific information for the purpose of decision-making in criminal trials has become the focus of countless television shows. By specializing in dramatic depiction of scientific evidence collection, processing, and solving crimes, these shows have created a new genre of television series and gained tremendous popularity among viewers. The shows include CSI: Miami, 3 Law & Order, 4 and Crossing Jordan, 5 to name a few. Highly sophisticated scientific techniques are utilized in these shows as part of compelling scientific evidence that connects the criminal defendant to the crime, and the crime scene, while providing viewers with a window to real crimes. Needless to say, in real life, the quality and quantity of scientific evidence and the speed with which it can be processed lags behind television show depictions. However, information is surfacing that suggests these shows may be having a significant impact on the criminal justice system by developing a faulty expectation of forensic evidence required for convicting a defendant. 6 Critics contend that these shows are distorting the jury deliberation process by placing undue burden on law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, resulting in unwarranted acquittal of countless defendants. Since the ...
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