I have been assigned to do a presentation on the "CSI Effect" and am trying to gather specific examples. I am referring to the tendency of jurors to be influenced by what they see on shows like CSI.
Have you had instances where jurors had unrealistic expectations with regard to forensic evidence? Have shows like CSI impacted the way you present cases? If so, how?
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
No fingerprints on a plastic baggie with 1oz of marijuana. I still hate that jury.
In a misdemeanor case I tried about 4 years ago or so, where the basis for the stop was failure to yield, I had a jury out for twice as long as expected. When I went to talk to them afterwards I was told one juror almost hung the whole panel because she had seen on CSI that there were lasers to measure distances and she was skeptical that the officer could accurately discern whether the defendant actually failed to yield without using the lasers to measure the distance between the patrol car and the defendant's vehicle when the defendant pulled out in front of the officer. And this after testimony that the officer had to take evasive action. Needlessly to say the other jurors weren't nearly as concerned about it.
I had a sexual assault case where there were 2 counts -- one for intercourse, and one for oral sex (def. on victim). We had the defendant's DNA from semen in the victim's vagina, but the jury said they debated for hours about whether to find him guilty of the second count "because there was no evidence of saliva"!!! We pointed out that the fact that his semen was in her told us she was telling the truth. They ultimately found him guilty of everything and gave him life, but it was a stupid thing to hang up about.
Robbery trial earlier this year. Defendant shoplifted from Wal-Mart, assaulted the loss prevention officer and tried to run over him. Loss prevention officer personally observed the theft. Saw defendant take items into bathroom, rip open package and stuff them into his pants. Store video clearly captured the altercation in parking lot. Video also showed defendant dropping the shoplifted items from his person, then showed the store employees picking up said items after defendant fled the scene. Theft of said items was documented by what the store calls a training receipt. No photos taken of said items, and they were returned to the store's spoiled goods bin. Jury found defendant not guilty because there was not enough proof that he actually committed a theft. Store should have had video of that. This was, on paper, such a lay down case that the defense attorney didn't think he had a snowball's chance to win. But he invoked the CSI effect, to his credit.
I very recently had a jury in a DWI case with an open container acquit the Defendant, the only person in the car, because we didn't bring any DNA evidence from the beer can.....
The only answer for that is: You can't fix stupid.
A jury hung up on a case where the defendant was caught with a kilo of cocaine because the money wasn't tested for drug residue to show that he possessed with intent to deliver.
I had a gang stabbing trial. The victim was jumped by a gang outside his house and was stabbed. He got inside his home and pulled the knife from his back and put it on the table. The question for the jury was whether or not the defendant was guilty of the stabbing either directly or as a party. The jury found not guilty because there was no DNA evidence that the blood on the knife produced in court belonged to the victim.
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