Monday 24 April 2017

Jurors watch too much CSI, says leading barrister

Shane Hickey

THE effect of crime shows such as 'CSI' means that juries are expecting too much "fancy forensic evidence", a leading barrister has claimed.

Paul Anthony McDermott said juries might be more minded to acquit the accused in trials where TV-style expert witnesses have not been used.

He also said there was a problem with both judges and juries watching too much television.

"I am convinced that people have been acquitted in Ireland simply because the jury, having watched too much television, had assumed that because the prosecution has not called some of these fancy experts that you see on the television, the jury think that it is not a real prosecution," he said.

Mr McDermott was addressing a conference in Dublin yesterday on the use of expert witnesses -- such as medical practitioners or road-accident assessors -- in legal settings.

"It is a real problem now when you are prosecuting a case because if you don't have this fancy forensic evidence, the jury -- who are all of them each night watching 'CSI' -- think the accused must be innocent because if they were guilty, why aren't there five DNA experts who can say all kinds of wonderful things?

Forensics

"We all know from 'CSI' that if someone is murdered, you can call a magician, an astrologist, a mind reader, a psychologist to explain exactly what the murderer was wearing, what they had eaten before they committed the murder, whether they were short-sighted or long-sighted."

Meanwhile Supreme Court judge Fidelma Macken said economists proved to be the most frustrating experts to appear before a court as they were unable to clearly set out what they want to say.

"The bane of most judges' lives is to see a group of economists coming into court speaking the most unbelievably incomprehensible language known to mankind and it couldn't be just that all the judges are dumb," she said.

"There is this inescapable inability on the part of economists to explain what must be reasonably simple concepts in reasonably clear and simple terms."

Irish Independent

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