Addressing Jurors’ Preconceived Notions about Scientific Evidence

The Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law published an interesting article regarding the “CSI Effect” entitled “Study of Juror Expectations and Demands Concerning Scientific Evidence: Does the ‘CSI Effect’ Exist?”

Follow this link to download the entire article on jurors’ expectations regarding scientific evidence.

Here is the?article introduction:
Many prosecutors, judges and journalists have claimed that watching television programs such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has caused jurors to wrongfully acquit guilty defendants when the prosecution presents no scientific evidence in support of the case. However, the academic legal-social science community has only just begun to study whether this purported ?CSI effect? exists.? In a recent article, Professor Tom R.?Tyler argued that without empirical studies, claims about the existence of the effect were mixed.? He concluded that it was theoretically just as probable that the effect could both raise and lower the bar in terms of jurors? likelihood to acquit. ?

This article is the first empirical study of jurors designed to investigate the existence and extent of the ?CSI effect.? The authors conducted a survey of 1027 persons who had been called for jury duty in a Michigan state court during a nine-week period in June, July and August, 2006.? This survey examined the summoned jurors? demographic information, television viewing habits, their expectations that the prosecutor would produce scientific evidence and whether they would demand scientific evidence as a condition of a guilty verdict.

Subjects addressed in the article:

  • Law Related Television Programs and Their Perceived Accuracy
  • Demographic Characteristics of CSI Watchers
  • Expectations about Evidence
  • Demands for Particular Evidence as a Condition for a Guilty Verdict
  • Generally, Juror Expectations of Being Presented with Scientific Evidence are High
  • In Certain Cases, Jurors who Watch CSI Have Higher Expectations of Scientific Evidence than Those who do?not Watch CSI
  • Juror Demands for Scientific Evidence as a Condition of Guilt is High in all Rape Cases and in all Other Types of Cases that Rely on Circumstantial Evidence
  • There is no Significant Difference in the Demand for Scientific Evidence as a Condition of Guilt Between Those Jurors who Watch CSI and Those who do not
  • A Broader ?Tech Effect? of Changes in our Culture may More Likely Account for the Increased Expectations of and Demands for Scientific Evidence
  • Such a ?Tech Effect? is a Legitimate and Constitutional Reflection of Changes in our Popular Culture, and the Criminal Justice System Must Adapt to Accommodate the Jurors? Expectations of and Demands for Scientific Evidence

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