She Blinded Me with Science: Wrongful Convictions and the 'Reverse CSI-Effect'
19 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 15, 2011
Prosecutors in the United States are often heard to complain these days of the "CSI-effect.'' Jurors today, the theory goes, have become spoiled as a result of the proliferation of these "high-tech" forensic shows, and now unrealistically expect conclusive scientific proof of guilt before they will convict. What I have come to notice, however, is a different kind a reverberation from the CSI-type shows that I believe often hurts defendants and benefits the prosecution. While not reported or discussed in the popular media as is the "CSI Effect," the other side of the coin, which I will call the "Reverse CSI Effect:' may be more damaging to the criminal justice system and the interests of justice than the opposite impact of which prosecutors complain. The "Reverse CSI Effect," as I call it, can be stated as follows: while jurors may have come to expect, as a result of CSI-type shows, high-tech forensic testimony in criminal cases, and may inappropriately acquit when such evidence is lacking, these same jurors, as a result of these same CSI-type shows, often place too much weight on forensic evidence in cases where forensic evidence IS in fact produced by the prosecution, resulting in convictions in cases where the defendant probably should have been acquitted.
Keywords: innocence, wrongful conviction, CSI-effect, forensic science, juries
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