Since 2002, popular media has been disseminating serious concerns that the integrity of the criminal trial is being compromised by the effects of television drama. This concern has been dubbed the "CSI effect" after the popular franchise Crime Scene Investigation (CSI). Specifically, it was widely alleged that CSI, one of the most watched programs on television, was affecting jury deliberations and outcomes. It was claimed that jurors confused the idealized portrayal of the capabilities of forensic science on television with the actual capabilities of forensic science in the contemporary criminal justice system. Accordingly, jurors held inflated expectations concerning the occurrence and probative value of forensic evidence. When forensic evidence failed to reach these expectations, it was suggested, juries acquitted. In short, it was argued that, in cases lacking forensic evidence in which juries would have convicted before the advent of the CSI franchise, juries were now acquitting.

The jury is central to American law. The right to a jury trial is "no mere procedural formality, but a fundamental reservation of power in our constitutional structure." Although the jury has been much maligned, the law continues to treat the jury as almost sacred, and many legal scholars and social scientists continue to defend the jury system...

 

Read the full article.