courtroom sketches

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber
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    I have never understood why courtroom sketches are permitted in some countries in preference to photographs. Surely a sketch has more potential to give a bias depiction than a photograph?
     
  2. Sirius Glass

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    I believe it is to keep the courtroom from becoming a media circus.
     
  3. John Koehrer

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    ^^me too. Shutter's working would be distracting to lots of people............I know they're not appreciated at horse shows :angel:
    ..............................Do they still make blimps?
     
  4. slackercrurster

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    OP...concur.
     
  5. jnanian

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    cliveh
    in US federal courtrooms recording devices are not allowed
    except for drawing and writing. ... not sure why it is the law
    but that is the way it is. i would rather look at a watercolour of a
    proceeding than a photograph, photos always look pathetic by comparison :smile:
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  6. BrianShaw

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    Tradition
     
  7. MattKing

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    I've actually appeared as counsel in courtroom trials, and I am totally against permitting photographs or video in a trial.
    The last thing you want in a trial is someone paying more attention to the cameras than to the people who are tasked with deciding issues. And the process of being a witness in court is difficult enough as it is.
    Trials are open to the public and the media is welcome to report the proceedings. In addition, transcripts of the proceedings are often prepared (as long as someone is willing to pay for them).
    There are very few things that would be improved if photography or video was permitted and a bunch of things that would be worse.
     
  8. Theo Sulphate

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    O.J. Simpson circus-trial is a perfect example.
     
  9. Eric Rose

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    Another thing to consider is generally only the principle figures are sketched accurately and the gallery/jury are left anonymous.
     
  10. MattKing

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    Not to mention the fact that the lighting in most courtrooms is terrible. :whistling:
     
  11. Poisson Du Jour

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    Same rule applies here in Australia too. Additionally, the artist is Court-apppointed rather than draw from wider media ranks. There are often terrible scuffles outside the courts involving the accused being photographed for print and television. Violent injuries and destruction of equipment is a common theme often shown on the nightly news.
     
  12. AgX

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    Over here taking photographs and filming is allowed inside the courtroom just before the actual start of the trial, with all participants in the room. Thus hardly anyone still sees sketches.

    (Though I wonder why it is allowed for the accused to hide his face at this instance, such hiding seems standard meanwhile. One may argue this is to protect the accused in case he gets acquitted.)
     
  13. mpirie

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    I was under the impression that sketches were used to avoid an accurate depiction of the accused in case they were found not guilty.

    If the accused had been photographed, then any implied anonymity would be gone.

    Mike
     
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  15. jnanian

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    im not sure if the artists who draw courtrooms here are court appointed
    but i noticed the ones being shown in the paper and on TV these days are
    drawn by someone named Art Lein ..... not to be confused by Photrio's very own gr8tbart ! :smile:
    i'd rather look at sketches of court proceedings anyways it always makes the whole situation
    less of a circus, kind of like when newpapers used to have sketches of ads, instead of photographs...
     
  16. winger

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    Having testified a "few" times (100 +), the ones where there was a TV camera, it was a little distracting and I was used to being on the stand prior to cameras being allowed. I think only about 5 of my cases were filmed, though. In all the other cases, I don't know that I was ever sketched by the official sketch artist (if there ever was one in MA). In MA, it was up to the judge whether to allow cameras or not. When CourtTV went to showing other stuff, the fad pretty much ended, I think. I don't remember if they stopped showing trials because judges wouldn't let them in or if they stopped for other reasons.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    cliveh

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    How come you testified so many times?
     
  18. RattyMouse

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    This is incorrect. No one has a right to anonymity in a court room, except jurors under very special circumstances.
     
  19. winger

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    I was a forensic chemist at the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab for almost 15 years. I worked in Criminalistics my first 7 years and was in charge of the Trace Analysis Section the rest of the time (with a full caseload as well as being in charge). I also responded to crime scenes. I left the lab in 2007, though the last time I testified was in May 2017 (old case they finally solved). On average, I worked on about 150 cases per year, I think.


    Sorry for the off topic story, but it does involve photography:
    My favorite time testifying, there were some pictures I'd taken of some of the evidence. It was a hit and run case, and the photos showed that the broken pieces of something at the scene fit back together with pieces found on the suspect's car. Pretty conclusively, too. So the defense attorney wanted to keep the photos out and asked - "So, you took these pictures. But you don't have any background in photography, do you?" My answer (as the prosecutor tried and failed to hold back his chortle), "Actually, sir, I started using my father's 35mm when I was about 12 years old and I took photography in high school and in college, as well as being the teaching assistant for forensic photography in graduate school." His response, "Never mind your honor. I have no objection to the photos." I don't think he asked me more than two or three questions during cross examination later either. Classic example of "Never ask a question to which you don't know the answer."
     
  20. MattKing

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    The other exception is that in our legal system (and others as well I expect) the identity of victims of the sexual assault of children is usually protected.
    In general, our system is much more protective of children than adults.
     
  21. Theo Sulphate

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    At the risk of appearing a hypocrite based on my previous reply here, I have to say I was totally captivated by the televised Jodi Arias trial.

    A photo related aspect of the trial: Jodi had made photos of Travis in the shower, moments before killing him. She then put the camera in the washing machine, perhaps thinking that would destroy evidence. However, being an amateur photographer, she should've realized simply removing the SD card would've been best. The real startling thing, once detectives had recovered the camera and the "deleted" images, was that the camera seems to have autonomously made three photos during the murder itself as it apparently dangled from its shoulder strap. I have never read any explanation about how that happened.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  22. Eric Rose

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    People in the gallery may not have a "right" to anonymity in a court room but as far as news is concerned depicting their faces does not add to the story. Quite the opposite.
     
  23. RattyMouse

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    Are the faces of these victims hidden during testimony? I know the names are never released, but I'm not sure if they testify behind a cover of some kind.
     
  24. pdeeh

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    1. *biased
    2. What are you being prosecuted for?
     
  25. Chan Tran

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    If you extend it beyond the court room. There are many places where you can not take photographs but you are allowed to be there and witness them. I never see any law prohibit sketches and also if you make a sketch of someone and use it for any purposes I don't think you can be sued for using their likeness like you can if you use a photograph.
     
  26. MattKing

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    Not usually, but there is a publication ban in respect of their identity.
    I can think about some possible situations when a face might be hidden - for example a child who was also publicly famous - but I can't think of a situation where it has happened.
     
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