Harper Discusses The ‘CSI Effect’ On CourtroomsBy Deborah
April 17, 2007 - 2:31 AM
CSI:New York’s Hill Harper spoke at the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section annual meeting on Saturday. He addressed the topic of the well-known CSI effect on the nation’s courtrooms. The star of the popular forensics drama is uniquely qualified to address this subject because he not only stars in one of the shows believed to contribute to the phenomenon, but he also holds a Juris Doctorate from Harvard.
The CSI effect is the theory that television crime dramas cause jurors to have unrealistic expectations in the courtroom. They even expect to see fingerprints and DNA in cases where the defendant admits guilt.
At the meeting, Hill Harper declared his skepticism that the CSI effect exists. Instead, he stressed the positive influence of shows like CSI:NY, saying they drive more people into the field of forensic science.
Harper believes attorneys should look to movies and television and use highly visual elements to makes their cases, as well as enhance arguments with forensic evidence. “[Attorneys] go for drama, but we don’t necessarily go for this ‘in your face, this is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.’” he said. “That’s why Jerry Bruckheimer is worth $5 billion dollars. … Because his whole aesthetic is it may not be the best story, the best movie or the best television show, but it’s always going to look better than anything you’ve ever seen.”
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