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EXPOSE: Jury Duty in Lankville

November 15, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
By Dick Oakes, Jr.

By Dick Oakes, Jr.


A drab, windowless room lined with splintery wood benches– a motionless ceiling fan mounted to one wall.

A second, windowless room– this one with an ancient television that projects nothing but static. A speaker, mounted into the ceiling, plays light trumpet music once every two minutes. A giant stack of pumpkins in one corner– a sign placed before them reads, “NOTHING TO DO WITH THE COURTS”.

A third room deep in the bowels of the great courthouse. No one has any idea what goes on in here. No one will talk. Until now.

These are the rooms where Lankvillians do their jury service.


"Happy Juror in Wheat", an image from Lankville's jury duty website.

“Happy Juror in Wheat”, an image from Lankville’s jury duty website.

Lankville’s jury duty website– lankvillejurorfun!.gov is a pleasing page full of images of people running through waving fields of grain and petting small farm animals and features a small area of restrained puzzles. The overview of the process reads, “Jury duty touches the inner lives of billions of Lankvillians every year. Be with us!” The “be with us” phrase is trademarked. A small flier can be partially downloaded before an error message was received on several Lankville Daily News devices.

Jury duty touches the inner lives of billions of Lankvillians every year. Be with us!”


At 5PM on the day prior to service, one calls an automated number to see if one has been selected (Lankville currently offers no online option). The sound on the recording is so low, however, and the voice of the speaker so muffled that one is generally forced to call back repeatedly. “It sounds as if the court official is talking into a big hat,” said one frustrated prospective juror. “Like one of those textured summer straw hats that’s been flattened to fit into a bag but has not yet resumed its normal shape– like the guy just started talking into one of those while it was still re-forming,” the juror added. Indeed, we noticed a strange, sort of crinkling sound on the recording.

“Yeah, the whole phone thing,” said a court official, who refused to be identified. “You’re talking about the hat recording, right?” We nodded. “Yeah, man.” The official took a booming pull off a soda straw and shook his head disgustedly back and forth. “That phone thing,” he said quietly.


On the day of their service, prospective jurors are ushered into one of the three rooms described above. An inside source, who we met in a fog on the Lankville heaths, indicated that the cohort taken to the third subterranean room, are invariably selected for service. “It’s been figured out months in advance,” the mysterious source stated. “The people in the top two rooms, they are subjected to minor irritants like the terrible snack foods and candy in the basically inoperable vending machines or when they wheel out the film projector and show that two and a half hour puppet movie but then, you know, they get to leave. The people in the third room– they stay for a long, long time.”

The source stopped short at revealing the source of the deceit. “Just think of The Grand Old Man. And then you can pick up the trail,” he whispered before disappearing into the mist.

The people in the third room– they stay for a long, long time.”


"The Grand Old Man", Judge Socquettes.

“The Grand Old Man”, Judge Socquettes.

The sobriquet “The Grand Old Man” is often applied to the venerable Judge Socquettes, who has been meting out justice in Lankville for over 70 years. He has been the subject of poems and parade floats and his name graces the front of over 9000 buildings in coastal Lankville alone. Could there be a dark side to the great man?

A “legal professional”, who insisted on complete anonymity and spoke to us from the second floor of an abandoned barn in the Great Lankville Plains that had been blanched grey by the great, abominable obligation of time, placed the blame squarely on Socquettes.

“It’s that chest-pack radio. He puts on that chest-pack radio and listens to it and pays no attention to any cases. We have to retry again and again and again. And we have to keep juries there again and again and again. I’ve watched people on the jury just collapse– not the collapse of exhaustion or boredom but the collapse or pure purposelessness, a sense of deep existential purposelessness that causes celestial forces to just suddenly push the victim down to the carpet. It’s terribly sad.”

“Nothing can be done though until his hold is broken. Because none of that cohort, that poor third group is saying anything. You won’t get a word out of them,” our source noted.

Our source was right. Over one hundred phone calls were not returned.

Judge Socquettes refused to be interviewed for this story.


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