Are Criminalistics Expert Witnesses Compared To CSI?

Reporter Jennifer McPhee writes that some people say the “CSI effect” raises jurors’ expectations about what kind of forensic evidence they can expect criminalistics expert witnesses to deliver from every crime scene in the real world. “If I only come to court with a single fingerprint or a single piece of DNA, they are either going to think I’m stupid or lazy,” says Richard Devine, team leader at the Ontario Police College’s forensic training unit. In McPhee also reports:

And even when the science on television is realistic, the scenarios aren’t, Devine later tells Law Times. “The bad guys in this province just drive by and shoot you. There’s nothing special about that. A good forensic investigator should be able to place the shooter. But I don’t want any bias that says a good forensic officer would have done this because that’s what they do on television.” Devine says one impact of these shows is they’ve made real world forensic investigators more professional and careful. Jurors are coming in looking for what they’ve seen on television, and also want to know how the Crown got the evidence and what it means for the trial, he says. Where people used to go to sleep during the forensic stuff, they don’t anymore. They are wide awake and they are listening. And they have a standard and that standard is created by the media,” says Devine.