The Supreme Court Has Been Watching Too Much Law & Order

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Supreme Court justices get handpicked by the president to wear fancy robes and make questionable decisions that affect the nature of political campaigns, but that doesn't mean they don't love a good police procedural as much as the next guy. As with any addict of the Law & Order or CSI franchise, they think they've gotten pretty good at solving crimes. You think they'd fall for a suspect called in for questioning before the second commercial break? Please, SCOTUS has been tuning in since Munch was in conspiracy diapers. They know every B-list guest star is a secret sociopath and that flashing a bartender a photo will win you a clue. In fact, all that expert understanding, absorbed by televised osmosis, seems to have informed yesterday's hearing on a habeas corpus case, according to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. In particular, their responses seemed to be marked by a lurid questioning of the gory details.

The evidence didn't add up to Justice Ruth Ginsburg (the group's resident Mariska Hargitay): "If someone were moved from the bed, taken to the living room couch, you would have expected to see a trail of blood from the bed, and there wasn't that." Justice Samuel Alito entertained a hypothetical: "Let's say there really was a gun fight, and Klein [the victim] fell someplace else. Why is it so valuable to him to move Klein's body?" Justice Antonin Scalia saw something suspicious in the defendant's shoddy clean-up job: "Why wouldn't he wipe up the blood? I mean, what good is it to simply put him on the couch when you leave a pool of blood showing that that's where he was shot?"

Says Milbank, "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. " Hey, at least it's better than them watching too much Real Housewives.

Gore vs. the Supreme Court: The justices and the 'CSI effect' [WP]