Yearly Archives: 2010

Howard Brodie Remembered

Blackmun  Howard Brodie, one of the greatest sketch artists ever, has passed away at age 94. He was generous, gentle and honest.

I met Howard when I was trying to land a job with CBS News in Washington. He was their regular artist, had covered the Watergate trial and was currently sketching the Panama Canal Treaty debate in the Senate.  He graciously let me tag along as I tried my hand at sketching the Supreme Court.  We then went over to the Senate where I was overwhelmed by the task of sketching the chamber with all it’s senators milling about.  Howard told me that it was the hardest thing he had ever had to draw, and that gave me some comfort.


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I started freelancing for CBS, although Howard still flew in from California for the big stories.  At the CBS bureau I had access to Howard’s drawings which I studied, and I tried to copy his style.  At dinner one evening when he was in town Howard remarked that his wife had seen my sketch of congressman Dan Flood, then on trial in District Court, and  thought it was Howard’s.  I was both thrilled and embarrassed.  Howard wasn’t upset though, but continued to give me encouragement.

 

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There are many stories about Howard’s compassion; here’s one : during  the Watergate trial Howard came upon a pigeon with a broken wing.  Facing a tight deadline he didn’t have time to take the crippled bird to a veterinarian himself, so he hailed a cab and gave the driver money to cover the pigeon’s fare and care.

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When it’s a slow day at the Supreme Court  I sometimes walk over to the Library of Congress, where Howard has donated most of his drawings.  I fill out a slip, give it to a librarian and pretty soon I’m once again getting fresh inspiration his amazing, strong drawings.

Thank you, Howard!

Howard Brodie’s obit in the San Francisco Chronicle can be found here.

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Posted in History

“Birther” Loses Court-Martial Defense

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Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, a highly decorated 18-year Army veteran, refused to deploy to Afghanistan on the grounds that the order was illegal because, he believes, President Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and therefore has no authority as Commander in Chief.

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Lakin invited his court-martial hoping to use it to call into question the President’s birth records, but a military judge today denied him that defense.

WorldNetDaily’s Thom Redmond has the story here.

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Posted in Military

Clemens Arraignment

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A couple of sketches from this afternoon’s arraignment of baseball star pitcher Roger Clemens.  Clemens, shown standing next to his attorney Rusty Hardin, arrived at the courthouse several hours early to get the mugshot and fingerprinting done before the 2 p.m. hearing. Later this afternoon Clemens and his wife are expected to tee off at an amateur charity golf tournament in Myrtle Beach.

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WaPo story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Perspective Lesson

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The New York Times’ Adam Liptak  looks at the ethical question faced by
courtroom artists who take on private commissions in an article titled ‘Question of Perspective in Courtroom Paintings’ .  The article focuses on Todd Crespi ( shown above sketching Bush v. Gore in 2000 ), an artist who clearly crosses an ethical line.

I’m quoted in the article as saying I’m “not very critical of Todd” , and it may appear that I condone his misrepresentations. I don’t.

But before condemning him I need to remind myself of a few journalistic lapses in my past. It used to be common practice to have artists do “re-creations” for a news stories, and lawyers still ask to have their day in court sketched after the fact.

Today I have a bright line : a sketch artist doesn’t sketch what he has not witnessed.

Once on a visit to the Folger I saw two nearly identical 17th century prints of a knight on horseback, the only difference was that one had the head of Charles I, and the other the head of Oliver Cromwell.

 

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Posted in History, Supreme Court

U.S. Marshal

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This armed U.S. Marshal stood inside the entrance to the courtroom where Ingmar Guandique – see previous post – made an appearance yesterday.

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Posted in Courtroom

DC Superior Court

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Two cases in Judge Gerald Fisher’s courtroom :

The first, pictured above, was a preliminary hearing at which surveillance videos were played of the robbery, and murder of Prabhjot Singh at a check-cashing store.

WRC story here

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Later in the day Ingmar Guandique , the accused killer of Chandra Levy, appeared before Judge Fisher during a pre-trial hearing to discuss the jury pool.

WaPo story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Blago II, Coming Soon!

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Jurors in the Rod Blagojevich trial were able to reach a verdict on only one count : lying to an FBI agent. A mistrial will be declared on the remaining 23 counts.

Prosecutors immediately announced their intention to pursue the case, and a hearing is set for next week to consider a date for a new trial.

Pictured are Rod and Patti Blagojevich as the verdict was announced in court.  Patti’s brother, Dick Mel has his arm around her shoulder.

Sun-Times story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Blago Jury Deadlocked?

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Pictured are Rod Blagojevich and one of his lawyers, Sheldon Sorosky, waiting for Judge Zagel to take the bench and reveal the latest communication from the jury.

The jurors note only led to more confusion and speculation about how much progress they have made toward reaching a verdict. One reporter described it as riding a roller-coaster blind.

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Shown above are Rod, his brother-in-law Dick Mel and his wife Patti discussing the note with a member of the defense team.

BlagoBlog has the story.

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Posted in Courtroom

Blago and Patti Arrive

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Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti made their first appearance at the courthouse since jury instructions July 28.  The are shown here as the arrive on the 25th floor and headed to the courtroom.

AP story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Blago Verdict Watch: Day 11

A few doodles to pass the time while waiting for a verdict.
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Update: The jury has a question!

Andrew Cohen on The Verdict Watch

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Posted in Courtroom
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