[T]o argue that "C.S.I." and similar shows are actually raising the number of acquittals is a staggering claim, and the remarkable thing is that, speaking forensically, there is not a shred of evidence to back it up. There is a robust field of research on jury decision-making but no study finding any "C.S.I. effect."
There is only anecdotal evidence....
Cole argues that the media have fallen for the prosecutors' version of what the show has done to people's minds. There's a defendants' version too: it's made people think of "forensic evidence as unambiguous and more certain than it is."
Even without a systematic study, though, we can assume popular culture is always affecting how people think. Cole admits:
As Anthony Amsterdam and Jerome Bruner note in "Minding the Law" (2000), "judges and lawyers must inevitably rely upon culturally shaped processes of categorizing, storytelling, and persuasion in going about their business." TV has become our principal storyteller, transmitting legal norms or, arguably, creating them. It's been said that "NYPD Blue," like cop shows before it, educated the public about its Miranda rights. Other scholars talk about a "Perry Mason effect," which may cause juries to expect on-the-stand confessions like the ones Raymond Burr elicited week after week.I've never seen "C.S.I." Surprised? I rarely watch any TV dramas (or movie dramas for that matter). I think I've come to dislike watching actors pretend to have problems and sitting around waiting for them to "solve" those problems.
But it seems to me that "C.S.I." would tend to sharpen a viewer's perception and attention to logical reasoning. I'm not that sympathetic to prosecutors' whining that they can't rely on jurors' fuzzy thinking anymore. Defense lawyers have always complained about the way jurors were dazzled by science and would defer to expertise. So what if everyone thinks he's an expert too now? That's an incentive for prosecutors to do their work well. The imperfection of real-life evidence is just one more thing they will have to get through to the C.S.I.-sharpened minds of the jurors.