One factor in the acquittal of actor Robert Blake this week on charges of killing his wife may have been an increasing desire by juries for the kind of certainty shown on television programs such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” in which crimes are solved conclusively in less than an hour, says the Los Angeles Times. Prosecutors generally say that juries are demanding more from them. In the Blake case, jurors said that they wanted more-convincing evidence, such as conclusive gunshot residue on Blake’s hands, or a fingerprint on the murder weapon, or more precision from casual eyewitnesses about Blake’s actions around the time his wife was shot to death in a parked car.
Oregon prosecutor Joshua Marquis was disturbed that Blake jurors “seemed very dismissive of circumstantial evidence,” he said. “Well, guess what? In most cases … you don’t have physical evidence.” There is “an expectation that people from the crime labs will have super technology” to resolve a case,” said Barry Scheck, president of the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Still, Scheck believes the “CSI effect” wasn’t a factor in the Blake case. “There was an absence of evidence,” he said.