Sunday, March 22, 2009


Criminal Minds: Andrew Wilder, writer-producer of CBS-TV’s “Criminal Minds” (starring, above L-R, Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Joe Mantegna and Thomas Gibson) will be among the featured speakers at a Connell School of Nursing symposium on “Forensics in the Media” March 25 in Robsham Theater. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC Studios)

Forensic examination: CSON symposium 'Forensics in the Media'

Set to be held on March 25, producers from top televison shows will attend

Students, forensic practitioners and fans of criminal procedural shows will get a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the making of some of television’s most popular forensic-focused programs when Kelly Ann Martin, senior producer of truTV’s “Forensic Files” and Andrew Wilder, writer/producer of CBS’s “Criminal Minds,” join veteran FBI Agent James T. Clemente in presenting “Fact vs. Fiction: The Inside View on Forensics in the Media” on March 25 at 4 p.m. in Robsham Theater.

“These professionals will talk about how they make their shows dramatically interesting while maintaining accuracy,” said Prof. Ann Wolbert Burgess (CSON), who co-organized the event with Director of Biology Laboratories Michael Piatelli. “They will explain how a show is put together and how actual cases are the basis for their storylines and characters.”

“Criminal Minds” is a realistic but fictional depiction of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, which profiles criminals to solve crimes. Clemente works for the real BAU and consults and writes for the show. “Criminal Minds” received a Human Rights First’s Award for Excellence in Television, honoring the show’s realistic portrayal of interrogation. The award-winning episode, written by Clemente, demonstrated how sophisticated use of non-violent interrogation techniques are more likely to yield credible information than abusive ones.

According to Clemente, “Criminal Minds” and the FBI have developed a successful model of cooperation between Hollywood and law enforcement.

“Forensic Files” offers true-crime scenarios solved via forensic science techniques employed by pathologists, medical examiners, law enforcement and other professionals.

“These shows have a chance to deliver real information to viewers about things that can keep them and their children safe,” added Burgess.

Clemente plans to talk about the negative effect some crime procedurals can have on juries, leading to failed prosecutions.
Piatelli agreed: “I think the biggest misconception about forensics in the media is how definitive the results of forensic tests are made to appear. Rarely in science is experimental evidence so compelling conclusive, but the media and TV shows portray forensic evidence as so complete and fail to bring out the true complex and ambiguous nature of forensic and scientific evidence.”

The Boston College Chronicleb by Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff