Author: 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.

Virginia Argues Preliminary Injunction on Travel Ban

The State of Virginia has joined the case of Aziz v. Trump, and this morning argued for a preliminary injunction before U.S. District Judge Leoni Brinkema. Brinkema came down pretty hard on the DOJ lawyer for not having any evidence to support the travel ban.

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This Week’s SCOTUS Sketches

So much is going on right now I’ll just post the sketches from three of this week’s arguments – Lynch v. Dimaya, Lee v. Tamand Ziglar v. Abbasi – and leave it at that.

 

 

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Douglas County School District

Last Wednesday the Supreme Court heard arguments about the level of benefits school districts are required to provide to children with disabilities. Here are my sketches of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District :

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Dylann Roof Death Penalty Trial

After finding Dylann Roof guilty last month in the murders of nine parishioners attending bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church the same jury will now decide whether Roof deserves the death penalty.

During opening statements the government revealed that Roof, in a journal he kept while held at the county jail after killings, wrote, “I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did, I am not sorry.”

Yet he goes on to ” . . . shed a tear of self-pity for myself.”

Acting as his own lawyer Roof made a three minute opening statement mainly to refute the idea that he acted out of insanity.

As the witnesses took the stand to testify about the loved ones taken from them the atmosphere in the courtroom turned emotional. Very moving testimony from, and about, some very good people.

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#Pizzagate

So busy this week that I didn’t get around to posting this sketch of the Comet Ping Pong Pizza gunman in DC Superior Court on Monday. Just as well as I knew little at the time of this whole crazy #pizzagate conspiracy theory. The New York Times this morning has an article dissecting the origins of this bizarre story.

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Trial Of A Mass Murderer

I’ve been in Charleston, SC this week for the trial of Dylann Roof, the 21 year old who shot to death nine members of the Mother Emanuel AME congregation after they welcomed him to join them in bible study. The lack of humanity in this young man, and the poisonous idea that fill his young head came out in court today as a video of his confession was played.

He doesn’t react at all in court, just sits there gazing down. As of now he still plans to act as his own attorney during the death penalty phase of his trial. It’s hard to imagine how that will go but it will be interesting. In the meantime I’ll just post the sketches from these first three days. It’s been exhausting.

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Redistricting Arguments

The justices heard arguments yesterday in two redistricting cases, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and McCrory v. Harris. The same two lawyers argued both, switching between appellant and appellee.

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First Opinion And Two Arguments

On Tuesday Justice Ginsburg announced the first opinion of the Court in a double-jeopardy case, Bravo-Fernandez v. U.S., argued on the first day of the term. Ginsburg spoke at length despite a severe hoarseness that made it hard to understand, and naturally that led to some speculation about her health. Once the argument got under way, though, she participated as vigorously as usual.

The Court heard three arguments this week, only two of which I sketched. Tuesday’s case, Moore v. Texaswas about the standard used to determine if a Texas death row inmate is too intellectually disabled to be executed.

Wednesday’s immigrant detention argument in Jennings v. Rodriguez pitted the plenary powers doctrine (I had to look that up) versus judicial review.

. . . and outside the it was a very soggy couple of days . . .

 

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An Antitrust Trial

It’s not getting much attention but there’s a pretty important antitrust trial underway in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The Justice Department is seeking to block the merger, actually more of a takeover, between the insurance companies Anthem and Cigna. Each side, of course, argues opposite results for the health care consumer.

Anthem’s CEO, Joseph R. Swedish testified on the first two days of trial which began last Monday and is expected to end before the new year. Another antitrust lawsuit, this time between Aetna and Humana, begins December 5.

A news story about the trial can be found here.

 

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Election Week At The Supreme Court

With the election of Donald Trump to president and his promise to appoint a new justice in the mold of Justice Scalia it appears that not much will change on the Court in the near future.

On the dreary morning after, visitors to the Supreme Court still lined up on the plaza, members of the bar still gather by the statue of John Mashall, and the justices still took to the bench to hear arguments. The only thing remarkable, and it may mean nothing, was that Justice Ginsburg appeared to be wearing her “dissent jabot.” It’s a kind of collar, not exactly a traditional jabot, with rhinestones that the justice wears when announcing a dissent from the bench. Whether she wore it to make a subtle statement or it was just the first thing she grabbed out of her jabot closet, I don’t know. But I also noticed she wore no  earrings, which, for a justice know for her sense of style, is not usual.

And so, for now, life goes on. Below are my sketches of the week’s arguments.

 

 

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