A new study challenges the perception by some judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials that TV dramas like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” cause jurors to overemphasize scientific evidence, reports the Associated Press. The study by a Michigan judge and two Eastern Michigan University professors examined the “CSI effect”–the tendency by jurors to devalue cases that don't provide them with sufficient forensic evidence. Circuit Judge Donald Shelton cited one burglary case in which jurors voted for acquittal because a lawn had not been dusted for fingerprints. He and criminology professors Young S. Kim and Gregg Barak set out to measure the TV shows' influence by randomly surveying 1,027 Washtenaw County jurors. The study was first reported by the Ann Arbor News.
The survey found that jurors expect significant scientific evidence, but not necessarily because of what they see on television. Findings were published in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law. The study found that viewers of shows in the CSI genre are more likely to expect forensic evidence than are nonviewers. In cases lacking such evidence, however, CSI fans are more likely to convict if eyewitness testimony is presented. The exceptions are in rape cases and in cases based on circumstantial evidence.