Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

First Page



This article is the first empirical study of jurors designed to investigate the existence and extent of the "CSI effect." The authors conducted a survey of 1027 persons who had been called for jury duty in a Michigan state court during a nine-week period in June, July and August, 2006. This survey examined the summoned jurors' demographic information, television viewing habits, their expectations that the prosecutor would produce scientific evidence and whether they would demand scientific evidence as a condition of a guilty verdict.

This study of juror expectations and demands about scientific evidence in relationship to other types of evidence, such as circumstantial or eyewitness, confirmed Professor Tyler's conclusions that the CSI effect was "mixed" and that it did not always work in the direction hypothesized by complaining prosecutors and judges. While the study did find significant expectations and demands for scientific evidence, there was little or no indication of a link between those inclinations and watching particular television shows. This article suggests that to the extent that jurors have significant expectations and demands for scientific evidence, those predispositions may have more to do with a broader "tech effect" in popular culture rather than any particular "CSI effect." In other words, if there is a media effect on juror expectations, it is an "indirect" effect and part of a larger transformation occurring in popular and technological culture. Accordingly, when examining the interactions between televised dramas and juror expectations and/or behavior, scholars and practitioners must be aware that the social construction or the social perception of the "law in action" cannot be separated from the symbolic representations of "law and order" as mediated by mass communications and popular culture.