The “CSI” Effect in New Jersey [AUDIO]
Believe it or not, many jurors involved in homicide cases in New Jersey think everything they see on TV shows like “CSI” is real.
“That’s actually hurting some jury trials because jurors are asking for crazy technology that doesn’t exist- they think it exists because they watch “CSI,’” says Detective Sgt. Jim McGowan of the New Jersey State Police.
He says a significant percentage of people sitting on juries watch crime dramas.
“They have some pre-conceived notions of what abilities we have. It leads them to ask some questions sometimes of detectives, of our crime scene detectives. ‘Did you do this because I saw it on TV,’ when that technology doesn’t exist.”
Rod Englert, a crime scene expert and re-constructionist, says many people don’t understand that instant DNA analysis isn’t real.
“Special lighting – alternate light sources that don’t even exist that do all kinds of spinning and colors and things – that doesn’t happen.”
He says what solves cases in the real world is hard work, and it takes time.
“It’s all about the patterns. Whether it’s a shooting, you can determine that. Whether it’s a beating, you can determine that from the blood patterns,” he says.
“The key to being a successful homicide investigator is taking your time, using other resources to help you instead of getting tunnel- visioned. It’s not like what you see on television – it’s laborious, it takes time.