Today, the Ohio State Bar Association introduced new jury instructions to address the growing influence of the Digital Age on jurors. For the most part these new instructions emulate similar instructions that are in place or will be in place in other jurisdictions around the country. One rather unique aspect of the OH instructions is that they also attempt to address the so-called impact of CSI and other law-related television programs on jurors. Although this may seem quite obvious, the new OH instructions inform jurors that they are not to rely on or obtain legal information from law-related television programs.
3. WARNING ON OUTSIDE INFLUENCE. The effort to exclude misleading outside influences information also puts a limit on getting legal information from television entertainment. This would apply to popular TV shows such as Law and Order, Boston Legal, Judge Judy, older shows like L.A. Law, Perry Mason, or Matlock, and any other fictional show dealing with the legal system. In addition, this would apply to shows such as CSI and NCIS, which present the use of scientific procedures to resolve criminal investigations. These and other similar shows may leave you with an improper preconceived idea about the legal system. As far as this case is concerned, you are not prohibited from watching such shows. However, there are many reasons why you cannot rely on TV legal programs, including the fact that these shows: (1) are not subject to the rules of evidence and legal safeguards that apply in this courtroom, and (2) are works of fiction that present unrealistic situations for dramatic effect. While entertaining, TV legal dramas condense, distort, or even ignore many procedures that take place in real cases and real courtrooms. No matter how convincing they try to be, these shows simply cannot depict the reality of an actual trial or investigation. You must put aside anything you think you know about the legal system that you saw on TV.