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The CSI Effect

CSI and it's spin-offs are some of the most popular shows on television.  People love a good crime drama.  Are CSI and other forensic-inspired shows affecting the jury pool?  Are people's views of what actually happens in the courtroom impacted by watching these television shows?  

The CSI Effect Theory asserts "popular TV crime dramas that focus on forensic science, may affect the behavior and expectations of jurors in real-life cases. The theory also suggests that jurors’ perceptions of the need for specific forensic evidence may impact their decisions in the courtroom."

Research shows jurors who watch forensic and crime shows have the expectation of scientific evidence at trial.  These jurors enter the courtroom expecting to see DNA, fingerprints and other forensic evidence.  Video enhancements seem so easy on television.  In real life situations, the video quality is typically not good and enhancements are less common.  DNA evidence is not processed instantly like it is on tv.  Fingerprints cannot be collected from just any surface.  It is the responsibility of counsel to educate jurors about how entertainment and real life differ.  

"22% of jurors expect DNA evidence to be presented in every criminal case."
"36% of jurors expected to see fingerprint evidence in every criminal case."


There seems to be a CSI factor for jurors in real-life courtrooms.  However, according to the study, the effect did not affect jurors' willingness to convict, which is good news for the judicial systems worldwide.  

National Institute of Justice