The “CSI” Effect

"The CSI Effect"

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In State v. Cooke (2007), the Delaware Supreme Court examined the CSI Effect. The defendant filed a series of motions to exclude ten pieces of prosecution forensic evidence, arguing that tests for each piece of evidence were either inconclusive or exculpatory, and he challenged their relevance. Noting widespread media coverage of criminal trials and the prevalence of forensic-based TV shows, the prosecution argued that it needed to produce enough evidence to address jurors’ heightened expectations for a thorough criminal investigation. The court noted that the prosecution was in a “Catch 22” conundrum, in that it could be criticized for either proffering too much irrelevant evidence or not presenting enough evidence, as the court had witnessed first-hand defendants taking advantage of absent prosecution evidence. In the end, the court found little harm in allowing the prosecution’s presentation of inconclusive evidence.