After a Rhode Island Grand Jury was unable to decide whether to indict Peter Hamiss, 22, on charges of shoplifting, the state called upon an oft forgotten contingency in the justice system: the Grandiose Jury.
At 12:14 P.M., the Grandiose Jury was heralded up the steps of the courtroom. Arrayed in their finest silks, they were carried through the aisles to the jury box, many brandishing great goblets of wine, as others pinched their noses or covered them with fine handkerchiefs to block out “the stench of degeneracy”.
At 12:20 P.M., the Honorable Judge Roberts called the court into session, asked for those in attendance to take their seats, introduced the bailiff on duty, and signaled that it was now time to begin the short interlude of song and acrobatic dance that was necessary before any trial to ensure the Grandiose Jury’s enjoyment. Of the performances, the jester appeared to placate the Jury most, as they began laughing, slapping their hands together, and shouting “again!” “again!” “what a sweet little poor man playing tricks for us!”
Opening arguments began at 12:30 P.M. The lawyer for Peter Hamiss made an impassioned case for the innocence of his client, though his final statement was cut short by loud belches from the Grandiose Jury box, where each member was working through his first quail breast of the day.
After oral arguments concluded, the first witness was called to the stand. Mr. Rangwani, the owner of the convenience store where the supposed shoplifting occurred, answered questions from the defense and the prosecution, though his testimony was slowed by one of the larger Grandiose Jury members, who continually interrupted with exclamations for “MORE WINE!” “MORE ELDERBERRY WINE!” “By the Great Burned God, knave, must I ask again?!”. Eventually, the court stenographer refilled the jury member’s goblet and witness testimony continued, with only occasional outbursts from the Grandiose Jury as to the “gall of these commoners.”
At 2:15 P.M., before closing arguments, the grapes were presented. At this time, the Grandiose Jury halted all court proceedings and, for the better part of an hour, sat motionless as the court stenographer slowly plucked and inserted single grapes into their upturned mouths. The Grandiose Jury appeared to relish the activity, belching satisfied “ooohhs,” “ahhhs,” and the occasional “Succulence!” as they ate.
At 3:30 P.M., the Jury motioned for a steam bath. Objections from the defense team were overruled, with each Jury member disrobing slowly into a fine silk towel. Sweet cream was poured over the naked backs of the jury members, who purred as it was scraped off their skin by a retinue of shirtless servant boys and paralegals. The bailiff was made, at this time, to tickle each jury member with the tip of a long feather, eliciting high pitched giggles and halfhearted pleas to “Stop! Stop it you devil!”. After a ritual oiling, perfuming, and a brisk plunge in a cold pool, Judge Roberts called the court back into session to the echo of pleasant sighs from the Jury box.
By 4:20 P.M., the Judge signaled the end of closing arguments and the Grandiose Jury retreated to deliberate. Though the proceedings were kept private, the procession of servants carrying trays of roast meats, fresh fruits, and iced confections into the deliberation room suggested a massive feast. After three days, the Grandiose Jury emerged and announced their verdict, to the underscoring of a lute player. The shoplifter was indicted on all previous charges, as well as seventeen new ones, including “general knavery,” “acting as an affront to the Eight True Gods,” and “degeneracy the likes of which this kingdom cannot endure.”
— CJS ’16, Cover image by DRC ’16