Sketches from the Dustbin


The class-action lawsuit brought against the Department of the Interior for its mismanagement of Indian Trust assets is one of the largest and longest ongoing. Beginning in 1996 the case, Cobell v. Babitt, went before Judge Royce Lamberth (pictured, along with Interior Secretary Babitt and Justice attorney Clark, in the second drawing from July 1999) who repeatedly ruled for the Native American plaintiffs, and found Interior Secretaries Gale Norton and Bruce Babitt in contempt of court.  In 2006 the Court of Appeals took the unusual action of removing Judge Lamberth, citing his loss of objectivity, and assigned the case to another judge.

A settlement was announced last December with a deadline for congressional approval by December 31, but Congress failed to act and the deadline was extended to February 28. Today the Justice Department announced, “the parties have agreed to extend that deadline through Friday, April 16, 2010.”

Meanwhile the plaintiffs have petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the case.

BLT story here.

Art Lien

Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

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