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Going to trial? It’s not going to be like CSI.

In many recent jury trials for DUI cases, it seems jurors often come in with expectations of what they are going to see.

When the case is first announced as a drunken driving case, a lot of the potential jurors look bored or disappointed—not the imminently law-defining, important case on which they hoped to serve. But when a forensic scientist is introduced, the mood changes. They perk up and look interested. For the CSI fans in the box, there’s an immediate expectation of a dramatic re-enactment of what they saw on primetime last night.

It’s like night and day. During the presentation of the entire case, the jury seems to be half dead and half asleep. But when the forensic scientist comes out, they have hopes of grandeur and hang on every partition ratio, alcohol metabolism and proper lab procedure word.

When they recess to the jury room, it seems they deliberate based on what they think they’ve learned from TV, not from the actual evidence presented to them. They think they’re the experts. They think they’re the exciting crime-fighting actors they see on TV portraying forensic scientists.

What’s sad is they forget CSI is a television show, and this is someone’s life they’re deciding.

This phenomenon reaches much further than jurors going gooey-eyed over the forensic evidence at DUI trials. New York City Attorney Scott Greenfield recently wrote about the same reaction. In this case, a woman phoned Mr. Greenfield saying her husband’s current lawyer was incompetent, because she watched TV and she knew. After going through the chain of events that led to her husband’s arrest, he told the woman her original lawyer had given her correct and competent advice, much to the woman’s chagrin.

“I told her, television has given you unrealistic expectations, and you want your lawyer to meet those television expectations.  I could have told you what you wanted to hear, but it would have been a lie.  I would not lie to you, even to make you happy.  Your lawyer wouldn’t lie to you either.  This makes him an honest lawyer, not a bad lawyer.'”

This blog comes with a disclaimer that the information here is only for general purposes. Our jury rooms might be well served if television crime shows came with a similar disclaimer: “This show is for entertainment purposes only. You will not be able to solve a case after watching this show.”

This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstance.