Courtroom Sketches

Hatty Nestor at Granta:

Society loves courtroom dramas – they allow the viewer to consume the uncertainty of someone else’s life as opposed to fixating on their own. (I am as guilty of this as anyone: I’ve watched courtroom dramas every week religiously in the past, especially Primal Fear and The Lincoln Lawyer.) We get hooked on the interrelations of characters, the impending catastrophe, the emotional mind games played by the press, lawyers, and bogeymen criminals. The allure of the genre, I believe, has to do with the hidden nature of the legal scenario. Films, television shows, and podcasts purport to expose the mystery of the courtroom, and the private lives of those tangled up in its web.

Beyond courtroom dramas and ‘true crime’ stories of trials, such as DatelineAmerican Crime StoryKilling Fields, and my recent favourite, Netflix’s The Staircase, the courtroom sketch is a key example of how the goings-on at trial are represented and disseminated. Notable cases that have been illustrated include Amy Winehouse’s 2009 trial for assault after she was accused of hitting a woman at a charity ball. A drawing by sketch artist Priscilla Coleman shows Winehouse extending her leg and hitching up her dress, in order to demonstrate to the court her slight frame as evidence of her innocence.

more here.