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Smoking Gun: When Real-Life CSI and Hollywood Collide

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 52,54-56,58,61
Jennifer Mertens
Date Published
March 2006
8 pages
This article attempts to explain and examine the impact of the CSI Effect; where more individuals/citizens are becoming involved and interested in the forensic arena due to the television arena creating a challenge to investigators and forensic experts in the courtroom.
The CSI Effect, where more citizens, eventual jurors, are becoming involved in the world of forensic science due to the collision of real-life CSI and Hollywood has caused educating the courtroom (jurors), having proper equipment, and establishing crime scene integrity to become more and more crucial to a new generation of crime scene investigators. Due to the CSI Effect, the public now expects a 40-minute investigation turnaround, as opposed to what typically can take months. Jurors are also expecting law enforcement to be using the biggest and best equipment, which is readily available on television. This phenomenon affects not only the court system, but also those committing the crimes. Criminals are becoming better educated on what not to leave behind at a crime scene. On a positive note, the CSI Effect is leading many university students to be drawn into the field of forensic study. However, the CSI Effect is being addressed at its core, the jurors themselves. An attempt is being made in Union County, NJ to inform perspective jurors that they should not walk into the courtroom with the knowledge of what they saw on CSI, the television show, last night. They should not walk in with preset expectations. Union County is attempting to educate it jurors to the realities of forensic sciences and dispel some of the myths portrayed through the media, in particular current television programming.


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