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TV Programs Effect Jurors

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Original Title:
Prosecutors Suggest TV Programs are Affecting Juror Expectations

Some prosecutors are suggesting that popular television programs like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" that rely on forensic analysis to solve cases have created unrealistic expectations on the part of jurors.

The phenomenon has been dubbed the "CSI Effect." "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and its spinoffs revolve around the use of real and not-so-real analysis of physical evidence to solve crimes. Cases are always neatly wrapped up within an hour. Some think the program has bred a demand on the part of jurys to expect high-tech, irrefutable evidence in a case before they will convict.

San Joaquin County homicide prosecutor Valli Israels claims it usually doesn't work that way in real-life cases. "Jurors have become accustomed to lots of great evidence," she says. "In a case, we don't always have that at trial."

Israels says the reality of what attorneys have to work with is often very different. "They'll say, 'why didn't you analyze this or that?' They don't understand the time it takes to analyze DNA or the backlog at the Department of Justice."

For example, it typically takes weeks for Department of Justice laboratories to analyze DNA evidence and return a report to prosecutors.

Israels said not all evidence can be scientifically analyzed, and notes that analysis is not warranted in every situation.

The proscecutor said she's learned to ask potential jurors before a trial starts what television programs they watch. She feels it's important to make clear to them that real case-building is far different from the way it is portrayed on television.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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