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Sketched March 16, 2016

On Tuesday, I put on a courtroom-sketcher hat. I headed down to the federal courthouse in Tacoma for the opening statements of State Auditor Troy Kelley’s trial.

My day as a courtroom sketcher provided a great opportunity to merge old and new media. I drew on my iPad Air 2 using a Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus and the drawing app ProCreate, which automatically generated the replay video you can see at the top of this post. I also brought a regular sketch pad, but I chose to sketch digitally in order to do live tweets during the trial. The courtroom had wi-fi but I simply relied on connecting my iPad to my iPhone hotspot to have Internet access.

People often tell me it must be interesting to draw a trial. And sometimes they are surprised when I tell them that anyone can be a courtroom sketcher for a day.

No press pass is required to sketch courtroom proceedings open to the general public. Anyone presenting a valid government ID to enter the courtroom is a potential sketch artist! But don’t expect special seating arrangements because you plan to draw. Get there early to stake out a good seat that will give you the best view of the actors at play. I say actors because the courtroom is not unlike a stage. Defendant, attorneys, judge and jurors all have important roles to play.

The federal courtroom where I made these sketches felt very solemn. A space where law rulings are made calls for that kind of environment. Stone walls, high ceilings and stately wooden furniture contributed to that feeling of respectability. Technology was visible, too. Every seat had its own flat screen connected to an even larger screen located across the jury box. A golden seal with the words United States District Court, Western District of Washington, appeared on the monitors before the trial started.

After the trial was adjourned for the day, I took a few more minutes to flesh out some sketches before emailing them to the newsroom for the print edition.

For details about the charges against Kelley and coverage of the trial, you may follow Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter.

Assistant U.S.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Friedman makes opening remarks as State Auditor Troy Kelley frowns and listens.
State Auditor Troy Kelley, right, looks down towards the computer monitor that displays a slide being presented to the jury by one of his attorneys.
State Auditor Troy Kelley, right, looks down towards the computer monitor that displays a slide being presented to the jury by one of his attorneys.
The defense asked for a mistrial but the judge denied the motion.
The defense asked for a mistrial but the judge denied the motion.
This view shows a defense attorney addressing the jury.
This view shows a defense attorney addressing the jury. Only the first of two rows of jurors appears in the sketch.
The federal courtroom moments before the beginning of the trial.
The federal courtroom moments before the beginning of the trial.
Journalists prepare for the trial to start. Laptops are allowed inside the courtroom, but “absolutely no photos or video,” reads a note taped on the door of the courtroom.
Journalists prepare for the trial to start. Laptops are allowed inside the courtroom, but “absolutely no photos or video,” reads a note taped on the door of the courtroom. I’m grateful for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be here sketching.