An Indirect-Effects Model of Mediated Adjudication: The CSI Myth, the Tech Effect, and Metropolitan Jurors' Expectations for Scientific Evidence

Vanderbilt Journal of Enterntainment & Technology Law, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 1-43, 2009

43 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2009

See all articles by Donald E. Shelton

Donald E. Shelton

Criminology and Criminal Justice Program

Young S. Kim

Eastern Michigan University

Gregg Barak

Eastern Michigan University

Date Written: December 16, 2009

Abstract

Part I of this article defines the "CSI effect", given that the phrase has come to have many different meanings ascribed to it. It emphasizes the epistemological importance of first describing the effect of the “CSI effect” as observed in juror behavior documented in a new study conducted in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan, and then looking at causative factors that may be related to an explanation of those observed effects. Part II describes the methodology of the Wayne County study, provides a descriptive analysis of Wayne County jurors, and compares the jurors demographically to the Washtenaw County jurors who were surveyed in 2006. Part III analyzes the Wayne County study results with respect to jurors’ expectations and demands for scientific evidence. The Wayne County study findings reinforce the earlier Washtenaw findings of heightened juror expectations and demands for scientific evidence in almost every respect. This most recent analysis of the impact of viewing CSI or similar programs on jurors in Wayne County likewise reinforces the conclusions from the earlier Washtenaw County study that there is no such causative relationship between watching CSI and the heightened expectations and demands of jurors. Part IV explores the nature of the “tech effect” as one causative factor for those heightened juror expectations and demands as an alternative to the “CSI effect.” It also proposes an indirect-effects model of juror influences that combines the perception of a “CSI effect” with the “tech effect” of modern scientific advances and the generalized effect of media portrayals about crime. This model triangulates the potential interactive effects of a “CSI effect” myth with the likelihood of a “tech effect” in the context of the “mass mediated effects” of law and order or crime and justice news. The results of regression analyses of data from Wayne County jurors provide some support for the 2006 study’s suggestion of a “tech effect” -- that the broader changes in popular culture brought about by rapid scientific and technological advances and widespread dissemination of information about them is a more likely explanation for increased juror expectations and demand for scientific evidence in the courtroom than simply viewing CSI or related programs. Part V provides an overview of contemporary perspectives of “mass-mediated effects” on public attitudes, behaviors, and expectations as a prelude to the suggested Indirect-effects Model of Mediated Adjudication.

Keywords: CSI, jury, criminal law, technology

Suggested Citation

Shelton, Donald E. and Kim, Young S. and Barak, Gregg, An Indirect-Effects Model of Mediated Adjudication: The CSI Myth, the Tech Effect, and Metropolitan Jurors' Expectations for Scientific Evidence (December 16, 2009). Vanderbilt Journal of Enterntainment & Technology Law, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 1-43, 2009 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1524253

Donald E. Shelton (Contact Author)

Criminology and Criminal Justice Program ( email )

Dearborn, MI 48128
United States

Young S. Kim

Eastern Michigan University ( email )

Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
United States

Gregg Barak

Eastern Michigan University ( email )

Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
United States

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