Abu Khattala Meets His Trial Judge

Abu Khattala

“From here on out you are stuck with me,” US District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper told Ahmed Abu Khattala. The Benghazi suspect has previously twice appeared in court but this was his first time before the trial judge  At the conclusion of the very brief status hearing – which didn’t reveal much beyond that the judge’s wife used to work for the DOJ – Judge Cooper set the next hearing date in September. It’s likely we’ll see Khattala before then as a grand jury is expected to bring additional charges.

You may wonder how I got in so much detail of the courtroom in the short time, maybe 15 minutes that the hearing lasted. Most of it, on the left side, was sketched during an hour-long hearing in a civil case that preceded Khattala’s. I did the background, the court  reporter and the judge, leaving only the lawyers and defendant to do once the actual hearing got under way. Some have been critical of this approach, saying the drawing should be done entirely as the events unfold. I don’t agree. I’m telling a nonfiction story about what I have witnessed, and I need to use certain tools to edit, compress, and highlight so that my story/drawing is readable. I even went further and pulled Khattala from the background to the foreground. Is that wrong?

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About

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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4 comments on “Abu Khattala Meets His Trial Judge
  1. Rene Wojcik says:

    I agree with your argument about getting some drawing done ahead of time. Your job is to tell a story based on the facts as you interpret them. Nice job I might add. Thank you for being our eyes in these cases.

  2. why does Sam Waters look more like your bearded @BillMurray Libyan Big Lebowski than @MaryFitzger ‘s Bou SALEEM PRISON PIC

  3. Waterson. Sam. Waterson. Fear the Beard. http://t.co/XAnz7KGldV

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