Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"The CSI Effect"

This is a new one on me, but from what I gather it has become an increasingly common phenomenon in jury trials. 

That is, because of the explosion of television crime shows in which the successful prosecution of the perp rests on the gathering and presentation in court of very high tech forensic evidence, there has now developed an unreasonable expectation on the part of many jurors in actual trials that the determination of guilt or innocence demands just such similar evidence.  As that kind of forensic evidence is rarely available in the real world, jurors have become more and more unlikely to reach a guilty verdict in largely circumstantial cases.

This "CSI Effect" is what some commentators are saying at least partly explains the acquittal of Casey Anthony yesterday in Orlando, but I'm not so sure.  I'm more inclined to think that the "CSI Effect" is more symptom that cause.

Sadly, we live in age when the epistemological crisis that has paralyzed the intellectual classes for a couple hundred years at least has finally leached into the popular culture as well.  We're no longer sure we can know anything.  Certainly we cannot know good from evil, right from wrong, if, that is, those concepts have any meaning anyway.  It's all a matter of taste, arbitrary opinion, and the exercise of power, right?

Of course, the one thing we do know is that to decide and to act on what, after all, we only think we know, is to engage in undeniable bigotry or chauvinism.  It is to be, in a word, judgmental.  So, standing forever in the middle is not only safer, it's more sophisticated as well.

So, who am I to vote to convict Casey Anthony, or convict anyone else for that matter.  It's only my opinion.  How would I know?  I mean, I wasn't there.  I need something more.  DNA?  Yes!  Fingerprints?  You bet!  Chemical residue?  Yea!  Yea!

The epistemological crisis, standing forever undecided in the middle, however, is not sustainable and high tech forensic evidence may just offer a way out.  If you need it.

No comments:

Post a Comment