Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jury Duty, Part II

I had a new experience this week. I served on a jury for the first time during a criminal trial. The defendant had been accused of stealing almost $10,000 from her employer, a convenience store. She worked a 10-hour shift alone and ‘refunded’ amounts started showing up on her daily reports. Who ever returns anything to a convenience store and gets their money back, let alone several people each day totaling $200 or more? The clerks were supposed to get all refunds cleared through their supervisors and no other clerks gave out any refunds. Then there was the little matter of the video surveillance system that is tied into the cash registers. This particular store used a system with a journal printer. When the clerk hits a register key, the transaction amounts show up on the video, just like it does on your receipt. If the journal printer is turned off, the transactions don’t show on the video. One of the videos was shown to us as evidence and you could see the clerk reach under the counter and turn the journal printer off. Next you could see her using the cash register but no numbers showed on the video so the store had no record of that transaction. The clerk was hitting the refund key before she made the transaction and later pocketing that amount. The daily receipt records also had missing receipt numbers from the time the printer was off. The clerk got bolder and bolder stealing several hundred dollars almost every day she worked over a period of about 4 months, totaling over $9800.

Since the clerk worked alone when the ‘refunds’ were made; since no other clerks at that store or others in the corporation had any refunds; since the journal printer was turned off and wasn’t malfunctioning in any way (only on her shift? I don’t think so); and since the video showed no one else stealing the money, we found her guilty of 2nd degree theft, that’s for stealing an amount over $1000 and less than $10,000. It's my understanding that she may be sentenced to 2-5 years.

The trial took about two days. Most of the first morning was jury selection and instructions. Then there were opening statements from both lawyers and two witnesses for the prosecution presented their information. We were let go about 3:15 because the 3rd witness couldn’t be there until this morning. Today we heard the third witness, watched the surveillance video, and heard closing arguments. The defendant never got on the stand or said a word other than to her lawyer. We got further instructions from the judge about how to go about reaching the verdict. We deliberated about a half hour and then we were escorted across the street to a cafĂ©’ for lunch. Back to the jury room after lunch and we reached a decision about 2 p.m. I only knew 2 of the other jurors but they were all very nice people. We were evenly divided, six men and six women. No one was bossy or tried to bully anyone else about his or her decision. There were a couple who a problem with the concept of reasonable doubt although everyone agreed at the very start of deliberations that she had stole the money.

I’m still on the jury roll through September and I wouldn’t mind sitting in on another trial. I found it very interesting and feel it’s my duty to serve.

1 comment:

Jeanine said...

hey Kat - thanks for commenting on my blog to help me with the $100.

I found this post very interesting. I am glad that she was found guilty, because in all honesty , it happens way too many times and they don't get caught or brought to court.

We own our own business and many times I think I've had *enough* evidence of such behaviour only to take it to the State Attny and get it sent to mediation and they always get off. Crooks are crooks and they are slick . She just wasn't as slick as she thought she was. :) thx ! Jeanine