What is the “CSI Effect”: Juries Demand More Evidence

June 27, 2013 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

Based on information from USA Today and CBS news, it seems that jurors today are looking for concrete forensic evidence, including fingerprint analysis and DNA, to be used in every criminal case. In addition, authorities are saying that juries now hesitate to convict when this is lacking.

Defense lawyers, prosecuting attorneys and judges are calling this phenomenon the “CSI Effect,” and because of it both defense attorneys and prosecutors find themselves searching for some new strategies in order to cope.

What the CSI Effect has done

Here in the United States, where those on trial are presumed innocent until proven otherwise, the prosecution has a challenging task, and the CSI effect is also a two-edged sword for defense attorneys. This phenomenon can prevent prosecutors from winning their case because jurors will often regard the forensic evidence they present in court as irrefutable and absolute.

Even as defense attorneys try to overcome that myth, prosecutors will tell you that getting a conviction has become increasingly difficult because of the CSI Effect. To counteract it, prosecuting attorneys in Illinois, Arizona and California are now calling on “negative evidence witnesses.” Their goal is to show jurors that there are many times when crime scene investigators fail to find any hard evidence related to who actually committed a crime, including fingerprints and DNA.

Crime labs are also affected

Not surprisingly, crime labs across the country are also feeling the pressure as their workloads increase. Jurors are looking for more forensic analysis as they deliberate, and when judges concur, they issue orders to have more tests done. Along with that, attorneys are piling an increasing amount of work on their forensic teams because they want to be as well-prepared as possible when they go to trial.

Advanced technology plays a role

In some states, attorneys are now allowed to rule out potential jurors and base this on their TV-viewing habits. At the same time, when instructing juries, judges caution them about looking for an excess amount of forensic evidence because they are used to watching popular crime shows on television. Other experts point out that people are also affected by the various technological devices they use every day. For example, one study by Judge Donald Shelton of Michigan indicated that using the newest BlackBerry has a more significant impact on the way a juror evaluates forensic evidence than the number of crime shows he or she watches every week.

This article is courtesy of the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor. David Cantor is a well respected Criminal Defense Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ. If you have a legal matter in Arizona, please see their website for assistance.