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: DEPICTION OF THE "CSI EFFECT" IN POPULAR CULTURE: PORTRAIT IN DOMINATION AND EFFECTIVE AFFECTATION
41 New Eng. L. Rev. 575
THOMAS W. NOLAN*
The ubiquitous and pervasive presence of CSI television shows and spin-off programs are nightly phenomena that capture in excess of sixty million viewers weekly; 2 in a poll of five hundred jurors, roughly seventy percent of them had seen and were familiar with CSI through this medium. 3 An internet search for the term "CSI" yields 60.7 million links in less than thirty seconds. What has come to be called the "CSI Effect" 4 implicates the portrayal of CSI in unduly influencing jurors in the courtroom. 5 This Article examines the depictions, images, portrayals, and representations of the various CSI characters in popular culture in an attempt to articulate a comprehensive understanding of the CSI Effect and its imprint (if any) on the legal system. The original CSI show, set in Las Vegas, will be the reference for this analysis. "Closing the 2004-05 season as the second-highest watched program, it had an average audience of 26.4 million viewers." 6
The CSI Effect is a term coined in the very same popular culture that initially spawned the various CSI shows beginning in 2000. The media, as well as those in the legal arena, have embraced the notion of the existence of an invasive and persistent expectation on the part of jurors that scientific evidence is not only of critical import in criminal investigations, but that the absence of such evidence renders any criminal investigation worthless.
Professor Rayburn suggests that:
The end product ...
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