Crime shows change juror expectations

Shows about criminal investigators are nothing new. In fact, some even have multiple spin-offs, but have you thought about how those scripted shows are shaping our perception of real life.

We sat down with one central Georgia district attorney who's frustrated with what he calls the "CSI Effect".

"I wish we could do DNA within an hour long TV show, but it takes weeks for each DNA sample to be evaluated." says Tim Vaughn, District Attorney for Georgia's Oconee Circuit.

Vaughn has been a prosecutor for 28 years and says because of Hollywood, he thinks the definition of beyond a reasonable doubt has been skewed over the years.

"Just because TV has it on there people think oh they have some satellite somewhere, that has a picture of the person committing this murder right, in the middle of the county, in the dark of night. We should be able to see that, well that's not real." says Vaughn.

He says they tell jurors to forget what they've seen on television.

"The expectation people have coming in and their preconceived notion of how things should be when in fact that is not based on reality." He says that's probably the thing that bothers him most.

And says, "They just want us to show them a videotape of the person committing the crime, and remove all doubt before they're satisfied and able to convict somebody. Its frustrating at times when you see the amount of work investigations and all that are put into cases, and you present it to a jury and they're like eh."

"We're processing items of evidence for fingerprints." Explains Wade Herren. He works in the crime scene unit for the Warner Robins police department. "I guess the thing about TV is the time it takes to get to the end result is not realistic, it takes a lot longer to find prints and solve cases than what you see on TV." says Herren.

He says they're usually at a crime scene a minimum of four hours. "Depending on the circumstances maybe a couple of days or as much as a week."

Juan Herrera, also works in the Warner Robins police department's crime lab, says "When you see how they go into these maps in the air and they match and bring everything together I know that I don't buy that."

Herrera showed 13WMAZ how they pull fingerprints using Iodine capsules.

But Vaughn says finding prints at a crime scene doesn't always solve a case. "In twenty-eight years as a prosecutor I could probably count on my two hands how many times that we actually had a finger print that had anything to do with the person that actually committed the crime." says Vaughn.

Herrera says it's not as easy as it looks on television to find a print. "Sometimes we're happy and get a full print, but most of the time it's just partial." says Herrera.

And once it's lifted his work isn't over. "It's not like we just put it there and the machine would just do everything and just bring one name and that's the name." Herrera says it's much more involved than that.

First they mark all the characteristics of the fingerprint with a computer program. Than they run those characteristics through the program, which creates a logarithm. That in turn goes through a national database, and reveals around ten to twenty possible matches.

Herrera says , "We have to go one by one and make sure it's a hundred percent a match." And even then Vaughn says the owner of those fingerprints would have had to already committed a crime, and be in the database to be traced.

"It's TV and movies and things of that nature, and the technology they report to have is not in reality. It just doesn't exist." says Vaughn.

He says the TV version is a story written to entertain.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment