‘CSI Effect’ Grips the US Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court justices may have been a little too fascinated with blood and gore in oral arguments in a habeas case on Tuesday.
The legal issue in the case centers on whether the lawyer for convicted murderer Joshua Richter was incompetent for failing to seek forensic blood evidence that would have helped him, according to a Washington Post columnist. Richter was accused of killing a man on a couch at the home of his marijuana dealer, but it wasn’t known whether a pool of blood found in the doorway belonged to the victim, which would have indicated the body was moved, possibly by a different gunman.
“In legal circles, there’s a hot debate over whether a ‘CSI effect’ has taken hold of juries, who expect prosecutors to convince them with the forensic certainty they do on TV,” the Post says. “Tuesday’s hearing indicates a different sort of CSI effect has gripped the justices, who seemed to be amusing themselves with gore.”
In fact, the column says, the word “blood” was uttered 60 times in a single hour. The justices talked about hypothetical trails of blood, blood spatters, atomized blood and satellite drops of blood.
The case is Harrington v. Richter. The bigger issue in the case is whether federal courts should give deference to a state appeals court’s final judgment if it denies habeas review in a summary decision.