Monday, February 25, 2019

TLB Trial Courtroom Sketches at LoC

Growing up in the 60's & 70's and always having been drawn to the macabre, I saw coverage of many many murder trials on the nightly news. This was long before CNN spawned the 24-hour news cycle that we have today. Back in my childhood through early adulthood, cameras were not allowed in courtrooms. According to uscourts.gov:
Electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings in federal courts has been expressly prohibited under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 since the criminal rules were adopted in 1946. Rule 53 states: "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by a statute or these rules, the court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom." 
In 1972 the Judicial Conference of the United States adopted a prohibition against "broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking photographs in the courtroom and areas immediately adjacent thereto." The prohibition, which was contained in the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, applied to criminal and civil cases.
Instead, what we saw on the nightly news was the work of talented artists hired by both newspapers and broadcast outlets to capture the personal dynamics of legal trials, which for many decades were off-limits to photographers and television cameras. The artwork brought the theater of the courtroom to life, capturing gestures, appearances and relationships in a way that humanized the defendants and plaintiffs, lawyers, judges and witnesses.

This all began to change in October 1988 when Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed the Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras in the Courtroom, which ultimately led to the presence of courtroom cameras. To this day, the question of cameras in the courtroom are up to the discretion of the presiding judge, which is why we still occasionally see the work of these sketch artists on news broadcasts.

The Tate-Labianca trial was brought to the public under the old system. The only glimpses of the defendants were of them being let to and from the courtroom.

The Library of Congress website contains some of the sketches made during the trial. Here they are with links provided:









30 comments:

AstroCreep said...

Very cool pics indeed-

Little Charlie doesn’t appear to be flying 10 feet thru the air tho...

Maybe it was sketched after he landed.

grimtraveller said...

Matt said...

Back in my childhood through early adulthood, cameras were not allowed in courtrooms

I don't think they should be, even now.

Milly James said...

Honest question - why not?

grimtraveller said...

Milly James said...

Honest question - why not?

Because when cameras are on people we are rarely unaffected by it.
People on trial, possibly for their lives, shouldn't be paraded as entertainment for the masses that might tune in for a few minutes and then switch channels to consume something else.
Because the details that get aired get nationwide exposure at a time when family members and loved ones and friends are in the worst possible place.
I don't explain it very convincingly, true. It's a feeling rather than a cogently logical treatise. I wouldn't want to be on trial before the entire telly watching audience {and those in jail !} and neither would I want trial details to be paraded before the nation on TV. And yes, I do think all kinds of people would play to the cameras, be it the judge, the lawyers, the witnesses, the perps, the clerks etc.
When I read the newspaper reports at the time of this particular trial, there's a certain detatchment that comes through and the artist's drawings kind of help. They're very unsatisfactory compared to the detail that is in the books. I think that's a good thing.

Smill said...

The Ted Bundy trial in June of 1979 was the first one I recall seeing on TV via cameras in the courtroom. The Florida Supreme Court had just ruled that May of ‘79 that cameras should be allowed in court. Although I do have issues with it (for many of the same reasons already mentioned in the comments here), it is pretty neat to be able to go back now and view the footage. It would be very interesting to see footage of the Manson trial now if we had it.

Dan S said...

I agree with grim. As fascinating as it is to watch, it's sensationalizing something that needs sober, objective reflection. I also agree with creep; that ain't no 10 feet...

Dan S said...

And he's ON the desk. I thought he was supposed to have leapt clean over it

Dan S said...

AND he's supposed to have a pencil as a weapon

AstroCreep said...

The pencil is mid air having fallen from his tiny hand-

I always think of Michael Jordan and the epic ‘from the foul line’ dunk when I’ve heard the tale of the ten foot leap in the courtroom.

The juvie programs Charlie was in shoulda had him in basketball because of his leaping prowess.

Dan S said...

I see the pencil now. Bugs sure remembers it differently than this artist's contemporary drawing! CM should've just stopped older's heart with a mind bullet

Doug Smith said...

AstroCreep:

Yes!
CM even speaks to his "court game"
So many levels of interpretation in play here...

And, imagine this - Air Charlies (I just had to go there!)

Doug Smith said...

Look At Your GAME, Earl (The Pearl) Monroe?

Doug Smith said...

For those not hip to Earl...also referred to as "Black Jesus" and, began his pro career in '67 (at same time as CM's patole)

grimtraveller said...

Smill said...

It would be very interesting to see footage of the Manson trial now if we had it

I wonder. The actual transcript of the trial is a trial in itself ! It's fascinating yes, but largely retrospectively and because after having heard about things pertaining to it for 48 years, there'd be certain things I'd be looking out for or keeping an eye on. Trials are public here too and having been a spectator at a couple of trials at the Old Bailey, there's little that's entertaining about them. One of the trials I was at for that particular afternoon was a rape trial. It was as boring as you like in terms of the number of times counsel would stop to approach the bench and the details that got put out about the victim, well, if that was my Mum, daughter, sister, cousin, close friend, colleague, auntie or neighbour, whether the stuff said was true, semi true or utter bull, I don't think a nation of TV watchers should have access to that for their daytime entertainment. There's something contained about 35 spectators at a public trial that isn't even on the same planet when it comes to TV's far reach.

The Florida Supreme Court had just ruled that May of ‘79 that cameras should be allowed in court

Perhaps it would be less of an issue in my head if it was treated the same way the transcript recorder was, part of the trial mechanism and not to be shown on telly, but if you want to watch it some time after, you apply to the state department responsible, the way one does for transcripts now. I can see that it could be useful for law students, for example, or people thinking of entering law enforcement of some kind.

Dan S said...

I see the pencil now. Bugs sure remembers it differently than this artist's contemporary drawing!

He remembered a few things kind of differently from the facts. For example, he came up with Rosemary LaBianca having 16 post mortem wounds when her autopsy establishes that she had less than 14 and the medical examiner he was speaking to on the stand never gave a number. But some of those things are within the {my} range of acceptable error. They don't change the outcome although they may have had ramifications to other people years later.

Dan S said...

To Bugs it most likely looked more extraordinary than reality; the surprise of such a crazy action. Witness recollections are the definition of subjective

grimtraveller said...

Dan S said...

To Bugs it most likely looked more extraordinary than reality

The court artist would have had to rely on a similar kind of memory. Even if a photographer had been there, it's doubtful they would have caught it unless by the most fantastic fluke as they would have been photographing something else, maybe Charlie getting irate with the judge for not letting him question the cop.

the surprise of such a crazy action

From the first time I read the book I was struck by how he prefaces it, something like "it happened in less time than it takes to tell." Even if it had been on live TV, it's likely we'd have missed the full import of it and would rely on countless replays on the news and future documentaries in order to tell future generations the story.

Milly James said...

Thanks for your response. Having done jury service at Wood Green and been called as witness at Snaresbrook, I agree that the process of the law is not entertainment. I was not thinking in terms of broadcasting, simply in terms of accurate recording.

grimtraveller said...

Milly James said...

Wood Green

I lived in Bounds Green for around 5 years and spent much time in Wood Green. It's become pretty hairy there over the years though. My nephew was held up at knifepoint there last year. And he was only 13 !

I was not thinking in terms of broadcasting, simply in terms of accurate recording

Probably showing my age, but I'm not convinced that it would be any more accurate than the recorder system.

Milly James said...

I worked in Turnpike Lane, just off the High Rd, south of Wood Green. I had no choice as to my place of jury service.

Milly James said...

Never been a brilliant area. Louise Crowe, a New Zealander, was killed outside our office. We had to tip toe around her boodstains for weeks afterwards. It was dreadful.

grimtraveller said...

Milly James said...

I worked in Turnpike Lane, just off the High Rd, south of Wood Green

There used to be a cinema at Turnpike Lane, right next to the bus station. I saw "Jaws" there when it hit England ! The 221 used to go there although it stops in Wood Green now. I spent a significant chunk of my life in that neck of the woods {no pun intended} and I still head down that way on occasion. It seems to have taken over from Finsbury Park and is trying to outdo Tottenham as the north London no-go spot.
Funnily enough, I bought my copy of "Five To Die" from a bookshop in Wood Green.

Milly James said...

The cinema was there in my day too. Just across the green populated by crusties with dogs on bits of string. There was a pub on the corner opposite the cinema that absoltely stank of sewers. Lovely place!

Doug Smith said...

Milly said, "populated by crusties with dogs on bits of string"

Made me have a flashback to when my band opened for The UK Subs in 1982. Charlie Harper was nearly 40 then. A really nice man...former hair stylist who loved 60s rock and roll but, who now attracted a crowd of Mohican sporting and spike-adorned leather jacket wearing punks and...Crass logo sportin filthy Vegan crusts...with dogs on strings.

Made me laugh. And, think that maybe the MF would've been Crusts a dozen years after Spahn

grimtraveller said...

Milly James said...

Just across the green populated by crusties with dogs on bits of string

I remember the phenomenon of down and outs with dogs on bits of string. It seemed almost like a uniform. Not so common now. I also remember the trees on that green. I'd never noticed them until I took psilocybin at the end of 1982 ! They looked truly individual and unique. I always noticed them after that.

Doug Smith said...

maybe the MF would've been Crusts a dozen years after Spahn

I've sometimes wondered what would have happened to them if they hadn't gotten into killing and I think they still would have imploded and not lasted. There just seemed to be something about Charlie that didn't lend itself to longevity, consistency and staying on the right side of the law.

AustinAnn74 said...

Why was my comment deleted?

Matt said...

AA, what comment? No one’s comments were deleted.

Doug Smith said...

Wha' Happened to the brown on black post? Will it fade into night? Was it at all of interest - even if horrendously formatted?

- "In the Dark"

AustinAnn74 said...

That's weird. I had commented yesterday morning and it disappeared. Maybe I didn't hit publish or something.

Matt said...

Oh, ok. Your comment wasn't singled out. That entire post was deleted.


Doug Smith said...

You answered my question here too Matt.
Thanks