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Circuit Court Bars Sketch Artist

Here is a sketchy decision if ever there was one. When longtime courtroom sketch artist William J. Hennessy Jr. showed up last week at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, supplies in hand, to capture oral arguments in a high-profile Guantanamo detainee case, the court's chief deputy clerk stopped him short. No sketching allowed today, she told him.

According to a post at The BLT, Hennessy was sidetracked but not derailed by the ban. In place of his sketchpad, he brought a legal pad into the courtroom and jotted notes about the lawyers and judges, recording gestures, clothing and the like. When he got back to his office, he drew the scene based on his notes and his memory. "As long as I can see it I can sketch it," he told The BLT.

In a wide shot, he captured the panel judges on the bench and Solicitor General Gregory Garre (dark gray suit with a solid light blue tie) at the podium; Hennessy sketched Bingham McCutchen partner P. Sabin Willett (dark suit with a red, black, and white striped tie) standing alone. Willett argued for the release of Uighur detainees, who were not in court.

When the circuit judges saw Hennessy's sketch, they were not happy. The clerk called him to convey their dismay. Asked by The BLT about the court's sketchy prohibition, Chief Judge David Sentelle said there is no set rule on sketch artists and each panel decides for itself. "The judges who presided make the decision."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 3, 2008 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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