Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jury Duty

Yesterday I was called for jury duty in Poughkeepsie, New York.


I arrived at the Dutchess County courthouse and sat in a big waiting room with a lot of other prospective jurors. We filled out our forms, watched the big TV on the wall, and waited. After two hours, the Commissioner of Jurors, Hooker Heaton, told us that there was no need for us after all. We were relieved of duty.

I was glad to return home to work, but I was also a little disappointed. I was kind of hoping to get a seat on the jury so I could play at being a sketch artist.

A few years ago, Jeanette got the call. She made it all the way to jury selection. She did a sketch of Mr. Vasti, the plaintiff’s attorney in a civil case.

15 comments:

Steve said...

James,

Your portrait sketches continue to amaze and inspire me. At the risk of making myself depressed, may I ask about how long you spent on HH's portrait? Thanks.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Steve. I don't know how long this took, because I did it during three sessions where HH made announcements. I did it with a Derwent graphite watercolor pencil. You can see the washes in his hair.

You are very kind with your compliments, but I'm not sure he was too thrilled with the sketch when I showed it to him and asked him to sign it. He asked me to come back in six years when I'm due next for jury duty, and he promised by then to lose 20 pounds.

Steve said...

Well, I'm glad you mentioned the issue of him not being "too thrilled" since it was clear he could slim down. I was going to ask about the potential awkwardness of showing someone a truthful representation when the truth might hurt. I experienced this recently with a painting done from reference photos. I think it could be even touchier when the subject didn't ask to be, or perhaps even knew, they were being sketched. The psychological qualities of that situation relate to an earlier GJ post/comments about sketching people in public.

James Gurney said...

Steve, I knew he would be cool with it actually. It ended up being a pretty close likeness, and he seemed like a well adjusted guy. He took it all in good humor. I guess he got what he paid for!

I asked him, by the way, if they still have courtroom artists, and he said they do once in a while if it's a notorious or newsworthy trial. Whenever the issue of cameras in the courtroom comes up, I always think of how it would displace the artists, but people discussing the issue on the news never mention that angle.

Steve said...

Did you use a brushpen with the Derwent pencil to do the wash?

Erik Bongers said...

I don't think we blog commentators ever read you your rights:

You have the right to erase your drawings. Everything you draw can and will be used against you on this blog.

i, me said...

Great sketch..but would you really want to be on jury duty. I don't think a judge would take too kindly to sketching when you should be listening!
As i have learned from a. morrocco b. the ny subway - not everyone is thrilled when you draw them :)

Paul McCall said...

I've summoned for jury duty several times, once even being plucked off the street when enough of those summoned by mail failed to show, and I've never been selected. As soon as they hear "Artist" as an occupation they dismiss me. I've been told by those in the legal profession that lawyers don't want anyone who has imagination or thinks in non-traditional ways.

vulpesferox said...

Mr. Gurney, you're the only person I know who can make jury duty sound fun!
~Amber

Jesse Hamm said...

I guess with a name like "Hooker," he can't afford to take himself too seriously.

I wonder how many artists in this country earn a living from courtroom sketching? Those sketches seem to appear on TV only rarely.

Jean Spitzer said...

This is very interesting. I've been called for jury duty (LA) and was thinking about sketching. I wonder if they'll tolerate it.

Andrew Wales said...

Sometimes when I sketch during teacher training, there are some that assume it means I'm not paying attention! Maybe they are used to students "tuning them out" as they draw.

I have actually found that sketching while listening helps me to focus. I wonder what others think about that.

foxstudio said...

How timely. I've been called for the 28th. Guess I'd better take my sketchbook!

James Gurney said...

Yes, in answer to Steve's technical question, I used the Derwent pencil and the waterbrush.

rebecca said...

It turns out that lots of jurors draw! Here's an online gallery of juror art: http://jurylaw.typepad.com/photos/juror_art
Wish I'd saved my drawings from my last jury duty adventure. But there's always the next time...