Tom Brady Sketch Kerfuffle Illustrates Value of Courtroom Cameras

Time for cameras to replace sketch artists

I would like to point out that all the buzz about Tom Brady's strangely angular and almost ghoulish visage in a court sketch artist's rendition would not be an issue if the court system dragged its be-robed, all-rise, hear ye, hear ye, self into the 21st century and allowed those newfangled photographic and video cameras—Tom Brady, meet Matthew Brady—to capture the proceedings.

Trials are supposed to be public, and cameras can bring the proceedings to a wider public.  What sense does it make to allow someone to carry a pencil into the court to draw someone, but not allow the same person to bring in a camera and take their picture. Not even considering that the way someone is drawn can color, as it were, how he or she is viewed by the public, something the Brady flap also clearly illustrates.

Outside the court, we call that progress. Inside they call it a threat to the process. With the proper rules and guidelines, it is not. No one is asking—well, maybe some are, but I'm not—to let cameras run roughshod over the proceedings. Decorum and tradition can be upheld while still allowing journalists one of the principal tools of their trade and the public a virtual seat in the courtroom, as should be their due.

The Brady sketch went viral, the artist reportedly sort of apologized, much sport was made of the rendering, which was of Brady's appearance in a New York Court.

One of the arguments against cameras would they would turn trials into circuses. You could hardly have put more clown makeup on the proceedings than to have the focus be on a bad sketch and the mockery that ensued.

I am not anti-courtroom artist, but there are many avenues for their talent that don't require them to try and be cameras under deadline pressure.

I am even working against my own interests. I once went to an important Supreme Court hearing and found I had lost my pen. Panicking briefly I discovered that the courtroom artist had left a charcoal in the pencil tray of my seat (which was more like a colonial writing desk). Saved by a courtroom artist.

Nonetheless, it's time for cameras in the court and sketch artists to be re-employed sitting along the Seine sipping wine and capturing lovely young ladies on their first trip to Paris.