The TV Effect Is Tough On Prosecutors

Wednesday, August 16th 2006, 10:22 am
By: News On 6

Prosecutors sometimes call it the "CSI-effect". They say TV shows and all their high-tech gizmos have created unrealistic expectations with juries. And they believe, sometimes, the bad guys are getting away.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says the fear of prosecutors of course is that the person goes on to commit more crimes.

And they think that's exactly what happened this weekend. Kenneth Jordan Mitchell is not guilty. That's what a jury said. To Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Jason Rush, he's one that got away. "I keep a what do you want to call it? A most-wanted list of people whom I feel have skirted or maybe gotten fortunate on technicalities or what not. And he's on my list, it's posted in my office, I see it every day."

Rush prosecuted Mitchell after he was accused of robbing a Tulsa Quik Trip with a gun last September. But the jury found him not guilty in a trial this past April, even though Rush says the Quik Trip clerk was a rock solid witness. "She was extremely consistent every time that she picked him out and I'm just convinced he was the guy."

"I didn't do this 10 years ago, but now when I talk with jurors, I ask them if they watch shows like CSI." Steve Kunzweiler reminds juries it wasn't that long ago that witnesses were all courts had to go on. "You didn't have tape recorders, you didn't have cameras capturing every image. You certainly didn't have the availability of DNA. You ultimately, when you get right down to it, it boils down to common sense."

Now this past weekend, four months after his acquittal, Tulsa Police say Mitchell was involved in kidnapping and forcing a person to withdraw money from an ATM at a Tulsa Quik Trip. Rush remembered the name from his list. "And I read the paper and saw that it was him."

Steve Kunzweiller: "Until we get to the day where everyone is wearing a camera on their shoulder, recording every one of their movements, and it's all big brother, we're always going to have holes."

The News on 6 tried to contact Mitchell's public defender from the first case, back in September, but she was busy in court Wednesday.

In the latest case, Mitchell faces complaints of armed robbery, kidnapping for extortion, and possession of a stolen vehicle.