Articles «Previous Next»

An Indirect-Effects Model of Mediated Adjudication: The CSI Myth, the Tech Effect, and Metropolitan Jurors' Expectations for Scientific Evidence

Hon. Donald E. Shelton, Eastern Michigan University
Young S. Kim, Eastern Michigan University
Gregg Barak, Eastern Michigan University

Abstract

Part I of this article defines the "CSI effect", given that the phrase has come to have many different meanings ascribed to it. It emphasizes the epistemological importance of first describing the effect of the “CSI effect” as observed in juror behavior documented in a new study conducted in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan, and then looking at causative factors that may be related to an explanation of those observed effects. Part II describes the methodology of the Wayne County study, provides a descriptive analysis of Wayne County jurors, and compares the jurors demographically to the Washtenaw County jurors who were surveyed in 2006. Part III analyzes the Wayne County study results with respect to jurors’ expectations and demands for scientific evidence. The Wayne County study findings reinforce the earlier Washtenaw findings of heightened juror expectations and demands for scientific evidence in almost every respect. This most recent analysis of the impact of viewing CSI or similar programs on jurors in Wayne County likewise reinforces the conclusions from the earlier Washtenaw County study that there is no such causative relationship between watching CSI and the heightened expectations and demands of jurors. Part IV explores the nature of the “tech effect” as one causative factor for those heightened juror expectations and demands as an alternative to the “CSI effect.” It also proposes an indirect-effects model of juror influences that combines the perception of a “CSI effect” with the “tech effect” of modern scientific advances and the generalized effect of media portrayals about crime. This model triangulates the potential interactive effects of a “CSI effect” myth with the likelihood of a “tech effect” in the context of the “mass mediated effects” of law and order or crime and justice news. The results of regression analyses of data from Wayne County jurors provide some support for the 2006 study’s suggestion of a “tech effect” -- that the broader changes in popular culture brought about by rapid scientific and technological advances and widespread dissemination of information about them is a more likely explanation for increased juror expectations and demand for scientific evidence in the courtroom than simply viewing CSI or related programs. Part V provides an overview of contemporary perspectives of “mass-mediated effects” on public attitudes, behaviors, and expectations as a prelude to the suggested Indirect-effects Model of Mediated Adjudication.

Suggested Citation

12 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 1 (2009). Available at http://law.vanderbilt.edu/publications/journal-entertainment-technology-law/archive/index.aspx