Hello again, this is Detective Jason Price of the Jacksonville Police Department with another edition of Cop’s Corner. For those of you who do not know me, I am a three year veteran of the department and have been in the Criminal Investigation Division for six months now. I am a Jacksonville native, and my mom loves reading these articles (she doesn’t understand why her son doesn’t get to write them all).

All of us, being potential jurors, may have some preconceived ideas of what type of presentation would be given in regards to the case that we are selected to hear. These preconceived ideas may have been influenced by what we see and hear in the media.

Jury Duty – These words conjure up images of long days spent on uncomfortable chairs in hot musty court rooms…except for those individuals who have succumbed to the CSI Effect. Such individuals would open the letter informing them that they should report for jury selection and thank their lucky stars they may be picked to be one of the fortunate 12 who are allowed to see the latest magic law enforcement uses to apprehend and prosecute criminals first hand. This juror would sit through the Voir Dire process (jury selection) with grand visions of animated holographic images recreating the crime and three dimensional recreations of the crime scene. The excitement would be almost too much to control and the thought “This is gonna be a good show” would pop in and out of the jurors mind. Upon selection, this juror would immediately cell their significant other and proudly proclaim “I get to see what those CSI guys have on this criminal!”.

The trial date has been set and this juror is ready for lights, camera, action! The juror surveys the room and notes that it looks different from the elevated jury box. The defendant and his council are seated at one table with the prosecution at the other. The judge sits elevated above it all, a symbol of impartiality and authority. The juror soaks it all in and thinks “Man, everybody has one of these viewing screens in front of them, the judge, the jury and all the attorney’s. I don’t know about the defendant’s guilt or innocence yet, but I bet its going to be a good show!”.

The prosecution begins its case. This particular case involves bank records that must be presented as evidence. The prosecutor walks to his table and presses a key or two on a lap top computer sitting there and the viewing screen in front of the juror comes alive. Our juror’s dreams are coming true, real life CSI! The case proceeds, and photographs are entered as evidence. Our juror feels like an old pro at this now and was looking at the display screen several minutes before the prosecutor instructed the jury to do so. Our juror again sees the display screen come to life bearing a photograph of an injured person. The injury appears to be from a fight. The next image is the same as the first with the addition of one large hand holding a wooden ruler near the victim’s injured area. Our juror comments to themselves that they had a ruler like that when they were in the fourth grade. A few more images are displayed, a small wood framed house with peeling white paint and red dirt stains near the bottom of the walls, a small front porch with a lone chair, a close up of the numbers of the house which were painted white several years ago and no longer contrast against the color of the house, and an image of a small, nearly grassless front yard which meets the roadway without a curb. “Cool,” thinks our juror, “now they’re gonna show us how it all happened with a computer generated re-creation. This really is like CSI!” But the prosecutor steps away from the lap top and continues with the case. Our juror starts to stray and wonders when the computer generated recreation is going to be played on the display screen. Why wasn’t there more “bang” in the photos that were shown? Where are all the special effects? The court room is filled with some really advanced technology, when are we getting to see the guys in lab coats and goggles? Who’s hand was that holding the ruler? Ruler?! I had one of those in grade school, why didn’t they use one of those electronic things like on TV, a ruler?! These thoughts race through our jurors head as the prosecutor’s voice thumps against their ears. Our juror returns from their strayed course just in time to hear the prosecution rest their case.

Our juror entered the deliberation room with a negative feeling about the case. There is a good possibility that the facts of the case will be interpreted in a negative way due to nothing more than a disappointed mindset which the juror held.

Our own courthouse in Rusk is equipped with the technologies described in this article. I realize that this article may be an extreme example but I gave such an example to illustrate a point. Regardless of the case matter, presentations in the prosecution of case will not be like the ones on CSI. Presentations, illustrations and recreations are examples and representations of the facts in case and the facts, not the presentations should garner our attention and deliberation.

So, next time you get your jury notice letter do like one old cop did, and say, “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts”.

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