April 10, 2017 (REVISED April 19, 2017) Panel to Discuss Justice Through the Perspective of an Eyewitness Artist, April 27

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The Law Library of Congress will host a panel discussion on “Justice Through the Perspective of an Eyewitness Artist,” featuring courtroom artists Marilyn Church, Pat Lopez and Bill Robles.

The event marks the opening of the Library of Congress exhibition “Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustrations” on April 27 and also celebrates the Law Library’s observation of Law Day on May 1.

The panel discussion will take place at noon on Thursday, April 27, in room 119 on the first level of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.  The event is free and open to the public.  Tickets are not needed.

Cameras were banned in courtrooms for decades beginning in the 1930s.  In the early 1960s, as the television evening news became more prominent, television networks began to hire artists for depictions of important and newsworthy trials.  The Library’s exhibition “Drawing Justice” will feature original art that captures the drama of high-profile court cases in the last 50 years.  The exhibition will open on Thursday, April 27, 2017, and close on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in the South Gallery on the second floor of the Jefferson Building.  It is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The exhibition’s curator, Sara Duke, will moderate the panel discussion and talk with Church, Lopez and Robles about their careers and the surprising moments they experienced in covering trials involving such defendants as Enron, John Gotti and Charles Manson.

Church had initially planned to work as a fashion illustrator, but in 1974 she tried her hand at courtroom illustration at a trial in Queens, New York.  She went on to sketch numerous high-profile cases in the New York area, including the Jean Harris trial, the competency hearing held in a psychiatric hospital for David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) and the criminal trials of John Gotti, Martha Stewart and Robert Chambers.

Lopez has been a courtroom illustrator for 38 years, covering trials from West Texas to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.  Among the significant court cases she has documented are the trial in the murder of Matthew Shepard, the Oklahoma City bombing trial and the Citadel admissions case.  Her work was featured prominently in a PBS documentary on the Oklahoma City bombing case.

Robles is a Los Angeles-based artist, who has been illustrating trials for more than four decades.  His first job as a courtroom artist was for the riveting Charles Manson trial in 1970-71.  He has also covered the trials involving Michael Jackson, the O. J. Simpson civil trial and trials litigated by nationally known attorney Thomas V. Girardi.  Robles has traveled across the country to provide illustrations for CBS, NBC and CNN.

The Library has amassed the largest publicly accessible collection of courtroom illustrations through a series of gifts from artists, their families  and heirs. Howard Brodie, with his donation of 1,400 drawings—for such seminal trials as those of Jack Ruby, Sirhan Sirhan, the Chicago Seven, and the My Lai Massacre court martial of William Calley and Ernest Medina—established the collection at the Library between 1965 and 1980.  In addition, Los Angeles illustrator David Rose gave more than 100 drawings from the 1971 and 1973 Pentagon Papers trials of Daniel Ellsberg & Anthony Russo.  In 2009, the family of New York-based artist Marilyn Church generously donated more than  4,200 drawings for trials from 1974 to 2008.  In 2015, the family of New York Daily News artist Joseph Papin gave more than 4,700 drawings.  Through purchase-gift arrangements in 2014, the Library was able to acquire the work of two mid-western artists, Gary Myrick and Pat Lopez.

The exhibition “Drawing Justice” is made possible by Girardi and the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon.  In addition, Girardi—the founding partner of Girardi Keese, a Los Angeles law firm—funded the acquisition of 95 high-profile trial drawings by Aggie Kenny, Bill Robles and Elizabeth Williams for the Library’s collections.  As a result of this benefaction, the Library’s courtroom illustrations are the most comprehensive in any American institution. 

The Law Library of Congress annually observes Law Day, a day on which the United States celebrates its legal system.  This celebration was first suggested by the American Bar Association in 1957.  President Dwight Eisenhower issued the first presidential proclamation for Law Day in 1958 and, in 1961, Congress passed Public Law 87-20, permanently establishing May 1 as Law Day.

The Law Library of Congress was founded in 1832 with the mission to make its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government, and the global legal community and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of law for future generations.  With more than 2.9 million volumes, the Law Library contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at loc.gov/law/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 17-049
ISSN 0731-3527