“A phenomenon reported by prosecutors who claim
that television shows based on scientific crime solving
have made actual jurors reluctant to vote to convict
when, as is typically true, forensic evidence is neither
necessary or available.”
-Nolo’s Plain-English
Law Dictionary
Watching television shows like
CSI and Cold Case Files give
citizens a distorted view of
how forensic evidence is found
and what technology is
available to forensic scientists.
Some examples include:
Process times for
Getting molds of wounds to
match to weapons
Amount of information you can
get from a piece of evidence
Jurors in criminal cases may fail to
convict someone who is guilty due to
a lack of high-tech physical evidence
Very few cases go to trial, and the ones that do
are the violent offenders
If true, the CSI Effect will force
prosecutors to change their
courtroom techniques in order to
convince jurors that the defendant is
Do jurors consider some forms of
evidence as more reliable than
Are there certain forms of
testimony that increase the
public's confidence in the reliability
of evidence?
Do crime-show viewing habits have
any effect on these assessments?
Results of the study
“DNA was considered to be the most reliable (89.5 percent), with fingerprints (78.8
percent), medical expert testimony (30.3 percent), police testimony (23.3 percent),
victim testimony (21.2 percent), and eyewitness testimony (21.2 percent) following
behind. The respondents found all forms of "science-based" (i.e., DNA and
fingerprint) evidence to be more reliable than victim, police, and eyewitness
People who watched three or more hours of crime shows per week were less likely
to convict in rape or murder cases without scientific evidence.
The greater the number of hours spent watching crime and justice programs, the
more reliable the respondents found these forms of evidence
Crime show viewing habits directly affected a respondent's belief about their
willingness to convict without scientific evidence
• This must identify and eliminate biased
jurors from the panel
• United states v Harrington – multiple
felony drug trafficking charges
Harrington argued that the court lessened the
courts burden of proof in his case by using only
“in-court” evidence.
1. Can the juror make the distinction between the
fictional cases depicted on the CSI-type shows and
real cases?
2. Can the juror convict even if CSI-type evidence is
not presented?
3. Does the juror understand that some of the tests
and investigation procedures used on television
shows may not even be possible in real life?
• Keep an open mind
• Don’t make conclusions about
the case until all the evidence is
• Don’t discuss the case with
anyone until the end of the
• At the end of the case, only
discuss the case with their
fellow impaneled jurors who
have taken an oath to be fair
and have heard all admissible
• Don’t read news accounts
about the case
• Don’t conduct any personal
What is evidence?
The exhibits which are to be received into
The sworn testimony of any witness
And facts to which all lawyers stipulate
What is not evidence?
Statements, arguments, questions, and
objections of the attorneys
Testimony that the judge instructs you to
Anything that the juror may see or hear when
the court is not in session even if what you see
or hear is done or said by one of the parties or
by one of the witnesses.
Crucial to a fair and effective
deliberation because it reminds the
jurors to avoid analyzing the facts of the
case through the lens of fiction
It is legally correct to instruct jurors
that prosecutors are not required to use
particular kinds of evidence like
scientific forensic evidence to prove
Also called Evans type instruction
• Baskin, D. R., & Sommers, I. B. (2010). Crime Show-Viewing Habits
and Public Attitudes Toward Forensic Evidence:
The “CSI”
Effect Revisited*. Justice System Journal, 97- 113.
• CSI:Miami. (2012, February 12). Retrieved from CBS:
• Google Images for background pictures
• Lawson, T. F. (2009). Before the verdict and beyond the
verdict: The csi infection within modern criminal jury
Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 41, 119-173.
• Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary. (2012).
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