Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 12/9/13: The CSI Effect

The so-called CSI Effect–named after the hit t.v. show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its progeny–refers to the theory that these shows have an impact on real juries in criminal cases. In them, highly-trained lab specialists with limitless budgets and the newest technology find a great deal of trace and other evidence that they able to quickly, reliably and objectively analyze to identify the guilty culprit, because “the evidence never lies.”  What the actual result is of this effect is hotly debated: prosecutors believe it leads to a greater number of acquittals, because jurors expect more than the scientific evidence can often reasonably deliver. Defense lawyers, in contrast, worry that jurors give too much deference to such testimony and are oblivious to the number of false convictions that have resulted from faulty analysis of evidence.



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