Hello! My name is Christine and I am a Courtroom Sketch Artist. What is that you ask? Well, we are a small group of freelance artists who are hired by news organization and other media outlets to sketch the proceedings and capture the human sentiment that runs awry within a courtroom, Why not just take a photograph or a live video the way OJ's trial took place? Great question - initially, cameras were not allowed in courtrooms so as to maintain decorum & maintain privacy of the respective parties. Although all 50 states do allow the use of photography in courtrooms now, the hoopla that surrounded the OJ trial renewed the debate of having courtroom sketch artists preserve and capture the proceeding's moments instead of making it Into a spectacle for the world to see. And before you think we take hours and hours to paint & make Martha Steward look like the next Mona Lisa, pause - we get paid on our speed and how well we have captured the raw emotion in the room. As soon as a proceeding or an arraignment is up - sometimes as quick as 8 minutes, we need to rush back to the news organization to share the sketch and get paid for the rights. So yeah it's a pretty hectic job but I never get tired of it - its seeing the realness in people - their emotions, that keeps me going
Now that you know the basics of what a Courtroom Sketch Artist does, let me give you some background about myself - I have been in this industry for 42 years now. My inspiration & motivator were my father & older sister. Mv father worked as a News anchor so growing up, we were always surrounded by news which made both my sister & I into news junkies. I was always interested in art and one day, when I was 15, my older sister Irene - who is a WCBS Radio News Journalist for New York, took me to a courtroom in Trenton to see what it is like to cover a case. I saw a handful of Courtroom Sketch artists there and that's when the light bulb went off - I wanted to be a Courtroom Sketch Artist! At that time I had no clue a career of that kind existed but lo & behold I enrolled myself in Pratt and 42 years later, here I am. Over my career, I have covered more than 5,000 trials - from the Boston Marathon Bomber to the Central Park 5 to John Lennon's killer to Puff Daddy, Mick Jagger, Woody Allen, Martha Stewart to even the now President - Donald J. Trump! Getting back to a Day in the Life of, my days are pretty much all over the place, depending on the cases that are coming in. The below is a breakdown of one of my latest hectic days
7 AM: Wake up, stretch and do some light exercise and get ready for the day
8 AM: Have breakfast, feed my dog, grab my equipment - canvas, paint, brushes, pencils, and head out!
10 AM: Reach the courtroom in NJ. Today, I am covering the Menendez corruption trial. It is a federal case where the jury has to decide whether Senator Robert Menendez of NJ, misused his office to help a friend/ donor with personal & business interests. What's a bit unprecedented about this case though is that, before the lawyers can come in and present their final closing statements, the judge is allowing one of the jurors to go on vacation and fill his seat with an alternative juror. During my 42 years, I have never seen a judge allow this to happen. I am telling my contacts at the news organizations that this is something of great value but, they have moved on to other cases. However, given the news Junkie that I am, I am still pursuing this and creating sketches of the proceedings. I think it is of great value and I would be remiss if I didn't capture it.
2 PM: It's a wrap for this case today. It was a very intense proceeding with the judge not allowing any lunch breaks. I start heading back to drop off a few things and have a quick bite just when my phone goes off and one of my news' contacts asks me if I can make it to Brooklyn (from Trenton) for the Chelsea Bomber arraignment. Of course I can but the traffic in Lincoln tunnel is going to be Crazy!
3 PM: Almost there but just as I am about to reach, get another call from the contact saying he has found a replacement who happened to be in the area! If only he had given me 15 more minutes I would have been there and oh guess what, the arraignment was delayed by 15 mins so I would have been able to make it! Oh well, another day, another case! The day of a Courtroom Sketch Artist doesn't always follow a linear path!