Peoria Prosecutors Join Criticism of “C.S.I. Effect” On Jurors


The “C.S.I.” effect phenomenon has hit Peoria, reports the Peorial Journal Star. David Banks, 35, was acquitted recently on a sexual assault charge. Even with DNA evidence and personal items left by Banks at the scene, “They wanted the soil found in her cervix tested with the soil at the park. How ridiculous is that?” said prosecutor Jodi Hoos. “That’s straight out of ‘CSI.’ With all that other evidence, that’s what you focus on?” The popular television show and its cousins that dominate the ratings are driving prosecutors wild, says the newspaper. They say jurors believe what they see on TV is reality and are holding the prosecution to a higher burden of proof. “Forty percent of the actual items, mechanisms and methods used in the show do not exist,” Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons said.

Michele Nethercott of Maryland’s public defender office and the head of the state’s Innocence Project is not sure there is such a thing as the CSI effect. “To call this a television effect is a misstatement. What jurors are reacting to is bad police work,” she said. Prosecutors are trying to adjust. Phoenix prosecutors question potential jurors during the jury selection process to see who watches the shows and whether they know such depictions are not reality. The National District Attorneys Association has suggested more testing on physical evidence and educating juries on when forensic tests are or aren’t needed.


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