After a Florida trial in which a jury failed to convict a man of attempted murder, jurors told a prosecutor they wanted more scientific evidence, such as details about the angle and depth of the stab wound — the kind of evidence seen on TV shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, says the Orlando Sentinel. With the crime-solving shows, prosecutors say, the average citizen can feel like an expert on things like stab wounds, DNA, and blood-spatter patterns. “They get into a jury room, and they realize they [forensic scientists] can do this and that, but the state never offered that as testimony. They’re only supposed to evaluate the evidence,” said Randy Means, spokesman for Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar. “It’s happening more and more. This is harmful to justice.”
Defense lawyers say the crime shows are taking the fall for prosecutors who are not building strong cases. Florida prosecutor Michael Odette handled a case that ended with an acquittal, despite statements from witnesses who said they saw the defendant naked with the teenager he was accused of sexually assaulting. Odette presented evidence of semen found in the girl’s urine, but scientists could not isolate the DNA because several months had passed before more tests were done. “The jury thought we should have had that DNA,” Odette said. “That’s where the CSI effect comes in. People have been convicted for 200 years without DNA. I thought the evidence was overwhelming.” The jury foreman said television had nothing to do with the acquittal.