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Forensics and Fallibility: Comparing the Views of Lawyers and Judges

Journal: West Virginia Law Review
Published: 2016
Primary Author: Brandon Garrett
Secondary Authors: G. Mitchell

Is there a CSI effect for lawyers? Forensic evidence plays an increasingly prominent role in criminal practice, leading some to worry that depictions of forensics in popular media might make jurors over-reliant on forensics-a so called CSI effect. There is little empirical evidence of a CSI effect among jury eligible laypersons, and, even if the effect may afflict some, its influence depends upon a case proceeding to a trial. As the Supreme Court has put it: “criminal justice today is for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials.” However, a CSI effect could be more consequential if it affects how criminal lawyers assess forensic evidence when they negotiate pleas or decide what evidence to present at trial. In this Article, we begin to examine how lawyers evaluate forensic evidence.

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