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.

Getting Ready For SCOTUS Spring

After a relatively low key and mild February at the Supreme Court the pace promises to quicken as the winds of March pick up and a flurry of cases fall (falls ?) on the docket.

I only sketched two arguments this week, Packingham v. North Carolina about a state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from going on social media sites such as FaceBook . . .

. . . and a very dense, to me at least, case on “subrogation clauses” in insurance policies: Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils

. . . and an opinion by Justice Kennedy in a racial gerrymandering case, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections.

Taking advantage of the slow pace I spent most of my time in the courtroom this week preparing for the March and April arguments. My sketches depict fairly accurately the events I witness, but because of deadlines some work has to be done in advance. And so, I set to work on the architecture and other details. The justices are also penciled in in advance. The advantage of graphite pencil is I can make changes at any stage up to the point the watercolor is applied.

 

 

Posted in Arguments, Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

This Week’s SCOTUS Sketches

It’s spring time in February! One needs to be outside, so I’ll just quickly post the sketches from this short President’s week at the Supreme Court.

Monday saw arguments in the cross-border shooting case, Hernandez v. Mesa . . .

. . . and arguments on the EEOC’s subpoena authority in McLane Co. v. EEOC.

 

On Tuesday my plan to begin work on a couple wide shots of the Court was sidelined when Invanka Trump showed up in the courtroom with her daughter. The need to get the sketch out caused me to miss that day’s argument.

 

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

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.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with:

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.

 

 

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , ,

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 :

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , ,

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.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: , , ,

#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.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: ,

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.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: , , ,

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.

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with:

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 . . .

 

Posted in Arguments, Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , , ,