The Effect Susan Shankles TPD Crime Lab Superintendent Hon. Teresa Godoy Superior Court Judge & Former Prosecutor
CSI effect – Many definitions The best-known definition states that CSI creates unreasonable expectations on the part of jurors, making it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain convictions. The second definition, which runs contrary to the first, refers to the way that CSI raises the stature of scientific evidence to virtual infallibility, thus making scientific evidence impenetrable. The final definition focuses on CSI's increasing lay interest in forensics and science. Thus, viewers who serve as jurors will be more interested in and able to follow scientific evidence. They may even become interested in academic training and careers in the forensics field.
Who does this “effect” affect? Police Over-collect evidence; higher expectations of the value of evidence in solving a case Attorneys Burden to request tests to cover all eventualities May dismiss certain cases for lack of forensic evidence Juries View a lack of forensic evidence as “reasonable doubt” Hold forensic evidence as infallible or unrebuttable proof of guilt Forensic Labs Cost overruns Backlogs
Juror Perspective Expect to see solid physical evidence indicating the defendant Likely to ignore circumstantial evidence Always assume DNA evidence should be found at the scene If physical evidence is found, it is now much less likely to be questioned by jurors
CSI and the Courtroom Experts have claimed an incidence of the “CSI effect” in courtrooms Trend in which TV shows increase the expectations of victims’ and jury members’ concerning forensic evidence and the level of crime scene investigation Evidence is being presented differently at trial
38 percent suffered at least one “CSI” acquittal or hung jury 70 percent voir dire on CSI (type shows) 72 percent believe that CSI has caused some jurors to believe that they have an “expertise” gained from watching CSI
Jurors demanding DNA In a recent murder trial in Phoenix, a bloody coat was introduced as evidence. It was not tested for DNA. The jury informed the judge that testing was not performed on the coat even though it was not needed because the defendant admitted that the coat was his. The judge then determined that “television had taught the jury what DNA tests were but didn’t teach them in what circumstances they can be used in”
Nielsen Ratings Sept. 1-8 2008 10. "Bones," Fox, 9.74 million viewers. 11. "The OT," Fox, 8.99 million viewers. 12. Republican Convention Coverage (Thursday), NBC, 8.66 million 14. "NCIS," CBS, 8.17 million viewers. 15. "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 7.83 million viewers. 16. "House," Fox, 7.75 million viewers. 17. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 7.27 million viewers.
Science vs. Entertainment Truth doesn’t always make good fiction Story lines need to be “jazzed” to meet the current trends in entertainment It’s all about the ratings, not the facts of the case Dramatizations “clean up” the messy truth More makeup and larger budgets Everything gets solved in an hour
Interesting Facts “40 percent of the ‘forensic science’ in these shows does not even exist. That’s why CSI won a Saturn Award for the best science fiction drama in 2004, beating out Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” –Jennifer Joyce, circuit attorney The real Miami Forensic Crime Lab has stated that the way CSI-Miami portrays one case would bankrupt the budget for the entire year.
CSI Myths Myth 1: Laboratory Personnel can examine evidence as soon as it gets to the lab Usually takes months before time permits an examination of the evidence due to back logs and quality control procedures
Myth 2: One person can examine all types of evidence There are few ‘generalists’ in today’s forensics The expertise required for each section of forensics sometimes requires one piece of evidence to be examined by more than one individual
Myth 3: Fingerprints susceptible to testing and identification are always found Finding identifiable fingerprints that can be collected and are of a high enough quality to do an automated search are rare Normally fingerprint comparison must be done by ‘hand’
Myth 4: Testing for drugs and chemicals in blood is quick and easy Numerous drugs, botanicals, & chemicals can be present in blood Numerous instruments to identify these various compounds Process often takes weeks or months to complete
Myth 5: The cooperative crime scene The ‘perfect’ evidence is rarely there Technology has greatly improved evidence collection but no technological advancements can find nonexistent evidence Time between occurrence and discovery of the crime is the biggest factor
Myth 6: The fully equipped crime lab TV forensic labs are always fully equipped with the most up to date technology Even the labs with the largest budgets cannot afford to have the same lab quality as the labs on TV dramas Shortages occur with building space, funds, equipment and proficient personnel
Top 10 Reasons Forensic Science is Not Like CSI 10. A forensic entomologist is never in charge. 9. Won't move to a new city to get better ratings. 8. Real forensic labs can afford light bulbs. 7. Hummers are not standard issue work vehicles. 6. DNA results take weeks, not minutes or hours. 5. Weapons are microscopes and test tubes - not Glock 9s and Sig Sauer P229s 4. Not every sample gets run on the GC/MS. 3. Don’t interview suspects 2. Indoor crime scenes are very dirty and messy. 1. It takes longer than 1 hour to solve a case.
How Things Have Changed No DNA- blood typing is as good as it got. Fingerprint analysis was done completely by hand. Databases for fingerprints/DNA didn’t exist. Technology
Milestones in Forensic Science Alphonse Bertillion: 1879—devised the first system of personal identification using body measurements. Francis Galton: 1892—conducted the first definitive study of fingerprints and their classification. Leone Lattes: 1901—developed a procedure to determine blood type from dried bloodstains Edmond Locard: 1910—created one of the first forensic labs in Lyons, France. Also developed the Locard exchange principle.
More Milestones… Calvin Goddard: 1925—used a comparison microscope to determine if a particular gun fired a bullet. J. Edgar Hoover: 1932—FBI forensic lab was created. Dr. Alex Jeffries: 1985—created DNA typing or “fingerprinting.” FBI: 1998-99—created IAFIS and CODIS
Another Effect:Increased Public Awareness of Forensics Some people now look forward to jury duty Better sense of investigations Popularized investigatory science programs Shifting demographics in forensics field
Efforts to Minimize Potential Effects In Arizona prosecutors now use "negative evidence witnesses" to try to assure jurors that it is not unusual for real crime-scene investigators to fail to find DNA, fingerprints and other evidence at crime scenes. Prosecutors often question the jury about their TV viewing habits during voir dire.
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