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The CSI Effect, Part II

By: Hilary Rodela, Lead Digital Content Writer for Taction USA 

As mentioned in Part I of this mini blog series, television shows such as CSI and Forensic Files gained immediate popularity and revealed to the world why forensic evidence is important. For those of us in the field, we know that the show CSI in particular has some truth and in other regards does not paint the whole picture of truth. This is understandable since the show is only about 40 minutes long. However, it does give the public an idea of the work that goes into processing a crime scene. Forensic Files delves into real cases and how forensic evidence solved the case. 

While it is good that the public now realizes how important these aspects of investigation are, it has also clouded opinions when it comes to cases. For jurors in particular who are familiar with these shows, the demand to see forensic evidence in a case has been at the forefront of the public’s mind. Why is this sometimes negative? The popularity of these shows have made jurors think every case should be solved by physical evidence or that this type of evidence should be cut and try and clear. However, the truth is, sometimes there isn’t much physical proof or the physical evidence that is collected is not enough to solve the case. 

Where is the balance? It is important for attorneys and investigators on the stand to articulate that while physical evidence is helpful in a case, each element of the investigation is equally important to the resolution of the case. Meaning, the physical evidence such as a latent fingerprint is equally important to the witness statement that was taken. 

The CSI Effect has proven helpful in explaining the importance of forensics and it’s evidentiary value, however, it has also brought about the fact that investigators need to help jurors understand the value of each piece of a case. 

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