Yesterday twelve men and women managed to do what presidents and politicians have been unable to do in quite some time--emotionally unite a large section of the United States populous.
When the Casey Anthony verdict came down yesterday, and she was acquitted of murdering her daughter Caylee, it seemed that a cry of outrage echoed across the country. Legal commentators like Nancy Grace said "the devil is dancing tonight" and celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Jason Biggs tweeted their shock and dismay.
So how did this jury come to reach a different conclusion than so many other people across the country? One theory I have is the CSI effect. Basically I wonder if TV shows like CSI have gotten juries to expect to see physical evidence in murder cases and when it isn't there, they won't convict. Some anecdotal evidence and research back up this theory. For example, a 2004 USA Today article outlines a number of cases across the country of how crime dramas have had an impact on the courtroom. Also a 2006 study by Judge Donald E. Shelton, and criminologists Young S. Kim and Gregg Barak found that those jurors who watched crime dramas like CSI were slightly more likely to expect scientific evidence of some kind in murder cases than those who did not. If the Casey Anthony trial was held 20 years ago, pre-CSI, I wonder if the verdict would have been different.
To learn more about the CSI effect and its impact, check out this ebook.
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