Prosecuting Government Fraud Despite the 'CSI Effect': Getting the Jury to Follow the Money
James B. Johnston
Seton Hall University - School of Law
New England Law Review, Vol. 41, 2007
Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 1002589
Prosecutors have complained that jurors who think they are educated in crime scene investigations by watching television have made it difficult to prove cases even when the charges are white collar in nature because they expect the forensics they see on the popular TV show CSI. Most episodes of CSI involve crimes that are violent and sometimes gruesome. However instead of using a gun or knife to prove the prosecution's case, government corruption trials must use dry and sometimes even dull financial evidence like bank records and government documents. No matter how complex a government fraud case may be each public corruption investigation and trial have the same common denominator. The prosecutor simply must get the jury to follow the money. For the prosecutor in a government fraud case, the challenge is to present the case in a simple, well organized fashion to show the jury how to follow the money. In the age of CSI it is not enough to instruct the jury to follow the money. The prosecutor must also show the jury how to follow the money.
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Date posted: February 13, 2008 ; Last revised: January 6, 2009