The Definition Of Csi Effect And Phenominon Criminology Essay

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One study suggest that the theory is that a proliferation is of crime-scene television series, such as CBS stalwart CSI, plants unrealistic expectations in the minds of jurors about how evidence is collected and processed. "If jurors believe what they see on TV, they might expect real-life investigators to collect and process evidence during the span of a TV commercial break; DNA test results in 15 minutes, fingerprints matched to a shady perpetrator". (The CSI Effect by Jim McKay) CSI and similar shows create the false perception that there's always plenty of physical evidence at a crime scene, and that technology exists to infallibly provide conclusive results on that evidence. The reality is altogether different. Crime scenes are messy, and most crime labs, sometimes staffed with forensic technicians who possess high school educations. --Most people in the criminal justice field agree that television crime shows affect real-life cases, but opinions differ on whether the impact is good or bad. This study suggests that real-life crime lab equipment is big, bulky and not photogenic. Krane, an interviewee, states that "The equipment you see in CSI tends to be hand-held and you get to focus more on the actor than the equipment and unlike television gadgetry, the results produced by real tools often are ambiguous". In this study there were two opposing views from two different criminal justice perspectives. Defense Attorney and DNA expert Robert Blasier downplayed the danger of television on jurors that decide criminal cases. He states more specifically: "I just don't think the jurors really confuse television with reality," he continued. "If there's a particular forensic test and you think a jury might have some unreal expectations, I always will bring it up in cross examination. You understand that this is not television and you can't get a DNA result over a 30 second commercial. It just doesn't work that way, and the DNA technology is still relatively primitive". On the opposing side of the table speaks Susan Riseling, chief police for the university of Wisconsin-Madison She states that "useful or not, today's juries simply demand more forensic evidence and those extra tests increase costs and slow the case of criminal trials." Riseling calls DNA the new fingerprint. "When fingerprints first came into being forensically, juries wanted to see the fingerprint evidence and when there were no fingerprints; people doubted that the person was ever really there". Given this perspective, if you were on trial for a crime you would want to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually committed that crime and were at and involved with the crime scene being investigated before sentencing you. So with that said perhaps fingerprints is the assurance that the criminal was involved with an aspect of the crime if not the whole and since we all have uniquely identifiable fingerprints that could clear some of the uncertainty that jurors present when deliberating our fates. This study suggests that perhaps the biggest impact of the CSI Effect has been to spur interest in forensics among young people. Science and forensics programs are proliferating at colleges and universities around the country.

In another study, researchers examined their subjects solely on the opinions of prosecutors, judges, and other law enforcement officials. In 2006, a study conducted in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan tested the validity of this popular notion and conducted the first empirical study of the alleged CSI effect on summoned jurors. The study involved a survey of 1,027 summoned jurors in Washtenaw County, Michigan about their television-watching habits, expectations for scientific evidence in particular types of cases, and their likely verdicts in those particular types of cases when faced with scenarios featuring various types of evidence. The data showed that jurors had increased expectations for scientific evidence and that in cases based on circumstantial evidence, jurors would be more likely to acquit a defendant if the government did not provide some form of scientific evidence. However, the Washtenaw County Study data also showed no significant correlation between those expectations and demands and whether the jurors watched CSI or similar programs on television. The follow-up study in 2009 (the Wayne County Study) surveyed jurors in Wayne County, which is centered in Detroit and is the most populous jurisdiction in Michigan. It was a metropolitan jurisdiction and the 13th most populous county in the nation, as distinguished from the more suburban, university setting in Washtenaw County. As a result the demographics of the jurors in Wayne County, namely the racial and educational backgrounds, as well as the income level, were significantly different from the demographics of the jurors in Washtenaw County. Given these differences in the studies' populations, similar results in the Wayne County study would lend support to the findings in Washtenaw County; on the other hand, contradictory results could suggest a need to further examine geographic and demographic characteristics as they relate to the CSI effect in order to determine the correlation between geography, demographics, and jurors' perceptions of forensic evidence in trials. The Wayne County study also explored the suggestion of a broader tech effect rather than a television-based CSI effect or even a more general effect of all media sources acting alone or possibly in combination, as the causative agent for the increased juror expectations and demands seen in the Washtenaw County study. The Wayne County showed that most jurors still appeared to trust, perhaps misguidedly, eyewitnesses and will rely on factual testimony to find that the government has met its burden, even in the absence of scientific evidence. Researchers in this study have found no evidence of a higher acquittal rate that could be linked to the so-called CSI effect in state courts. Thus, stating that the CSI effect could be more appropriately called the "CSI myth". This perspective of research and their findings is clearly an opposition compared to the first study that was elaborated on in the beginning of this examination.

The question proposed from the findings of the study then became; If watching CSI-type television programs does not cause juries to acquit defendants in cases without scientific evidence, what could be the cause of jurors' heightened expectations and demands for scientific evidence? This study states that the lack of a correlation between watching CSI and jurors' expectations for scientific evidence does not necessarily mean that watching a plethora of forensic science television shows does not play a role in the juror behavior that was documented. After the Washtenaw County study, they theorized a "tech effect" rather than a "CSI effect" that causes the heightened expectations and demands. Rather this "tech effect" suggests that the origins of heightened juror expectations about scientific evidence lay in "the broader permeation of the changes in our popular culture brought about by the confluence of rapid advances in science and information technology and the increased use of crime stories as a vehicle to dramatize those advances.

Another study that attempted to determine the "CSI Effect" was presented by Simon A. Cole and Rachel Dioso-Villa. This study examines the relationship of the jury that we highly recognize to American law and the connection between the television shows. This study states that among the longstanding criticisms of juries has been the claim that juries are subject to media bias. Psychologists have argued that juries can be influenced by pretrial publicity in specific cases, lending support for the need for changes of venue in high profile cases. But they have also argued that there are more general forms of pretrial publicity, in which media influence may shape jurors' general views about law and crime in ways that affect jury deliberations and verdicts. A LexisNexis search found fifty-six newspaper and magazine articles mentioning the CSI effect in that year and seventy-eight articles in 2006. In addition to concerns about the integrity of the jury system,, some prosecutors have claimed that the CSI effect has altered another pillar of the criminal trial- the standard of proof. They have claimed that jurors are now holding them to a higher standard of proofs than the traditional "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. In closing arguments, prosecutors have called this higher standard the "TV expectation". Legal scholars have further noted that, from a theoretical point of view, any media influence on juries would be equally likely to have an effect opposite to that most commonly discussed by the media-that is, forensically-oriented television programming might just as easily make juries more conviction prone as more acquittal prone. Many prosecutors also make a weaker claim, which researchers in this study called," the weak prosecutor's effect". This claim posits that CSI has altered prosecutor, not juror, behavior. Claimed changes in prosecutorial behavior include questioning potential jurors about their television viewing habits in voir dire, presenting negative evidence testimony, discussing CSI in summations, and requesting legally unnecessary forensic tests. In opposition, researchers in this study that some defense attorneys advance in opposite effect in which they referred to as "defendant's effect". The claim is that CSI and similar television programming, through their positive and heroic portrayals of state-employed forensic scientists, enhance the perceived credibility of the government's forensic witnessed, thus advantaging the prosecution. The producers of CSI in this study rebutted charges that their product is contaminating the criminal justice system but rather educating the general public. In examining Shelton et All this study suggest that the baseline against which the CSI effect should be measured is not a static baseline with no change in jurors' expectations for forensic evidence. Presumably, jurors expectations should, appropriately, increase over time, in response to actual advances in forensic technology. Therefore, the CSI effect, if there is one, would have to refer to a marginal increase in juror expectations that is excessive of whatever increase in expectations we should reasonably anticipate, given the technological developments that have actually occurred.

In Conclusion, we can see how many different researchers may have different positions as to what the CSI effect's influence over jurors has been and whether or not it could have flawed the American legal system. Each researcher examining different jurors has indicated that there is no solely operating CSI effect rather other contributing factors and possibly newly potential termed phenomenon's to perhaps examine the underlying causes and effects that jurors, prosecutors and defense attorney are presented with in a criminal trial.

Scholarly Resources

Jones, R., & Bangert, A. (2006). THE CSI EFFECT: CHANGING THE FACE OF SCIENCE. (cover story). Science Scope, 30(3), 38-42. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Shelton, D., Kim, Y., & Barak, G. (2009). An Indirect-Effects Model of Mediated Adjudication: The CSI Myth, the Tech Effect, and Metropolitan Jurors' Expectations for Scientific Evidence. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, 12(1), 1-43. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Cole, S., & Dioso-Villa, R. (2009). INVESTIGATING THE 'CSI EFFECT' EFFECT: MEDIA AND LITIGATION CRISIS IN CRIMINAL LAW. Stanford Law Review, 61(6), 1335-1373. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Kim, Y., Barak, G., & Shelton, D. (2009). Examining the "CSI-effect" in the cases of circumstantial evidence and eyewitness testimony: Multivariate and path analyses. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(5), 452-460. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2009.07.005.

McKay, J. (2008). CSI EFFECT. (cover story). Government Technology, 21(2), 18-23. Retrieved from Computers & Applied Sciences Complete database.

Jones, R., & Bangert, A. (2006). THE CSI EFFECT: CHANGING THE FACE OF SCIENCE. (cover story). Science Scope, 30(3), 38-42. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.