Courtroom Sketching

Recently a local TV station hired me as a courtroom sketch artist for a school shooting trial (full story here). Today was the last day of the trial. Family members testified about how the murders had affected them, and then the judge gave his sentence. It was gut wrenching to watch.

Courtroom sketching is a fascinating experience. I never know how long someone will be on the stand so I have to draw extremely fast. The challenge is to think of interesting ways to draw people who are basically just sitting around talking to each other in a very formal and emotionless manner (it’s not as dramatic as those courtrooom TV shows). Usually the news truck outside needs a couple of drawings by 10:30am (for the noon newscast), and the rest by about 3:30pm in time for the 5:00 news. It’s a lot of pressure but also a fascinating experience.

I’m always frustrated with how my courtroom drawings turn out because they are completed in such a rush. But considering the time crunch I think these sketches turned out ok. Except for the drawings of the shooter. I was seated almost directly behind him, so it was difficult to get a view of his face. I was there for a total of three days over the course of the trial. Here are some of the better sketches.

The teacher who apprehended the shooter demonstrates how the gun was held:

The vitims’ families:

A grieving mother reads a statement:

A grieving father reads a statement:

A grieving mother reads a statement. She holds a rock from a mountain top, which had symbolic meaning for her:

The shooter’s mother pleads for leniency:

The judge gives his sentence: