Crime scene investigation lacks clarity, brevity depicted on TV

Tim Adams

On My Side Of The Plate

An article recently appeared in a newspaper with a much larger circulation that our own Blue Mountain Eagle reporting that attorneys from around the nation are beginning to fear that the popular CSI television shows, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: Miami," are having a negative influence on jurors in criminal cases and may be giving them "unreasonable expectations."

I ask you, how ridiculous is our American judicial system becoming?

In today's world there are far too many people who believe, some righteously so as a matter of fact, that they haven't gotten a fair shake when they were charged with a crime and had to face the judge and jury of their peers, and now the justice system has to factor in what influence television might have on a criminal case.

Apparently, several Portland-area prosecutors have begun asking potential jurors during vore dire whether they watched the shows, and have begun to worry whether the jury pool may become "tainted."

The attorneys assume that if citizens who are called for jury duty viewed the shows, they would come away with "impossibly high expectations" of how easily criminal cases can be solved through the use of forensic evidence.

Then again, this could be just another ploy used by prosecuting and defense attorneys to get a juror dismissed for "cause," which will result in even larger jury pools needing to be called for major trials, and only bog-down the legal system even more, resulting in yet another delay in a citizen's right to a speedy trial.

Of course there are certain folks who would just as soon not serve on a jury and here is some free "legal" advise on how not to be chosen.

Just show up in court with a T-shirt on which reads: "I Supported The Chicago Seven" or one with a picture of a person strapped into "Old Sparky" which reads: "OTEC Shareholder, Turn On The Juice!"

I can guarantee one of the attorneys or the judge will dismiss you from the jury pool.

Having dealt with numerous attorneys on both sides of the aisle and testified in court countless times during my career in police work, I have yet to find a single one who was ever truly confident when presenting a case to a jury.

When you strip away all the pre-trial confidence and flamboyancy, if attorneys are really truthful about their feelings, they would sooner have the trial done in front of a judge alone, strike a plea bargain or, at least in from the side of defense attorneys, have the case dismissed all together.

The reason for this is that juries are so unpredictable, and you never know what they are going to do. Just ask O.J.

You might have an air-tight case going into the court room and there is no doubt in your mind that the bad guy is going to be convicted and sure enough, you'll get the "not guilty" verdict.

Other times your case may be half-baked at best with some questionable evidence and shaky testimony from witnesses, only to have the defendant get convicted and sent up the river until at least the next millennium.

I had an attorney tell me one time that a trial by jury is little more than a crap-shoot. You just roll the dice and hope for the best.

This is because, for the most part, people have absolutely no idea how the legal system works.

The only contact they have with the system is what they've observed from watching television shows such as "Family Law," "The Practice" and "The Guardian." Or for us older viewers, "Arrest and Trial," "Perry Mason" and "Judd for the Defense."

Now its the "CSI" shows which are allegedly causing problems in court with all their high-tech gadgets solving crimes in the span of an hour, including time out for commercials for "Swiffer Wet-Jets" and "Stouffer's Lean Cuisine."

Shoot, solving crimes in an hour is nothing. Joe Friday on "Dragnet" used to get the job done in 30 minutes.

It goes right back to the bottom line of people being able to separate truth from fiction and being able to realize what is real and what is not.

That and understanding that television, as well as movies and video games, are entertainment and should be treated as such.

Many of us were rabid fans and enjoyed the original "Star Trek" from years ago, however we all knew that "Beam me up Scottie" wasn't the real deal.

Another problem in today's world is that far too many people are trying to mold their lives around what they see on television and at the theater.

How many people do you know that think the "real life" is like what they see happening on the afternoon soaps?

I've sure dealt with a lot of them over the years, and I expect the law enforcement officers here in Grant County have as well.

I swear, some of the domestic disturbances I was dispatched to, the arguments and the problems people had gotten themselves into were straight out of scripts "The Young and the Restless" and "The Days of Our Lives."

Here's something else to consider.

Maybe all the supposed problems created by "CSI" are nothing more than a plot to lower the shows' Nielsen Ratings.

Now that the November sweeps are over, some television producers will do just about anything and stoop to any level to improve their programs.

Anyone with comments about "On My Side of the Plate" can contact Tim Adams by calling 575-0710 or by e-mail at tim@bluemountaineagle.com.

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