The “CSI Effect” is a theory that states because the prevalence of crime shows (such as CSI, NCSIS, Law & Order, and one my favorites Forensic Files) people who serve on juries will place an over emphasis on forensic reports when determining an outcome of a case. Some studies have shown an existence of a form of CSI Effect, while some have concluded such an effect does not exist.
But this might change especially with the advent of a new technology known as 3D crime scanners. Juries will be able to become crime scene investigators themselves. Using a rotating mirror, a laser beam shoots out scanning millions and millions of points and maps them on to over 250 photographs. The result is a 3D view of the crime scene itself. It is becoming one of the leading ways police offiers and investigators record and document crime scenes.
Most police departments use the Leicia ScanStation C10. The instrument shoots out a laser, which “travels over every square inch within a roughly 900-foot-diameter area, collecting 50,000measurement points per second. Afterward, a built-in camera takes panoramic photos of the entire scene. The measurement data — called a 'point cloud' — is matched with the pixels from the series of panoramic photos. The result is a color, three-dimensional rendition of the scene from which any linear measurement can be conducted with an accuracy within a quarter of an inch.” The instruments cost about $70,000.00. Some scanners can cost up to $125,000.00.
Marketed as a way for attorneys to combat the CSI Effect (if such an effect exists) in that the new scanners would meet the juries desires for more forensic evidence. However, I believe that such scanners would take away from the art of advocacy. The traditional type of evidence presented to juries is 2 dimensional photographs and diagrams of the crime scene. Instead of having a defense attorney argue against, for example, how something would have looked at a certain vantage point or questioning a witness’s position at a crime scene, a prosecutor need only use the 3D scanner and create the view from the witnesses’ point of view and show it to the jury. The imagination juries are able to use when listening to various arguments and viewing 2 dimensional photographs and documents will no longer be needed. And as a result, juries who are already exposed to shows such as CSI, et al. will place an over emphasis on such technology and overlook some of the inefficiencies of the scanners.
But overall, if the technology is supposed to work as it is imagined, I believe it would be a great tool for bringing achieving justice, as it may prevent innocent people from being wrongly convicted. For example, in some cases, it is already proving a useful tool in solving a crash investigation where a pedestrian was struck by a car in a parking lot. With the advent of this technology, “forensic scientists can examine a scene at a later date for lines of sight, a bullet trajectory or even a blood spatter analysis.”