Elizabeth Williams' artwork has been published on the cover of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Post and New York Newsday. Her work has been exhibited in juried shows at the Society of Illustrators in N.Y. and L.A. and shown at The New York City Police Museum, John Jay School of Criminal Justice, N.Y., and the Conejo Valley Art Museum, CA.
A native of upstate New York, she attended Washington University in St. Louis and received her B.F.A. from N.Y.'s Parsons School of Design.
The trials Williams has covered include Martha Stewart, John DeLorean, Preppie Murderer, Robert Chambers, the Central Park Jogger, Leona Helmsley, Imelda Marcos, Bess Meyerson, Sean Bell, and Galleon hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. She also drew all the court appearances of the infamous Bernard Madoff, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Faisal Shahzad, the NYC Times Square Bomber. She covered mobsters like John Gotti and Carmine "the Snake" Persico and also Paul Castellano of the Gambino Crime Family right before he was gunned down on the streets of New York. She also covered the cases of the USFL (prime mover Donald Trump) v. the NFL, and L.A. Raiders and Al Davis v. the NFL. Other clients include NBC News (L.A. & N.Y.), CBS News N.Y., Associated Press, WCBS, WNBC, KABC, KNBC, ESPN, CNBC and Newsweek.
“A new approach to understanding the criminal justice system through the eyes of courtroom artists”
– Kirkus Reviews
A new approach to understanding the criminal justice system through the eyes of courtroom artists.
The drawings and paintings that make up this collection, compiled by debut author Williams and Russell (Lethal Intent, 2013), are the work of courtroom artists, the only people able to capture images in the many courtrooms where video and photography aren’t permitted. Striking images accompany artists’ reminiscences of the trials they have covered. Many of the cases are explored in detail, and some are well-known—the O.J. Simpson trial, Iran-Contra, Martha Stewart’s insider trading. The collection also includes stories of memorable attorneys and defendants, along with representative images. The anecdotes shared by the artists range from the unexpected—e.g., an undercover detective attempted to bribe an artist to destroy a drawing that might reveal his identity—to the absurd—Judge John Sirica threatened to expel anyone chewing gum in his courtroom—to the touching, particularly the depictions and descriptions of witnesses delivering their testimonies through tears. The images included in this collection demonstrate that a charcoal or pen-and-ink drawing, while dependent on an artist’s style and unable to match the precision of a photograph, can be more effective in conveying the mood of a courtroom, as in a Howard Brodie sketch of the scene at the opening of the Watergate trial. A Bill Robles drawing of Patty Hearst’s father writing a $500,000 bail check tells a story in itself. When Aggie Kenny describes her experience covering the organized crime trials of the 1980s—“Few defendants interact with artists or really seem to care what we are doing. But I always sensed that mafia guys understood the process and saw it as part of the business”—it’s clear that courtroom artists provide an essential, often overlooked perspective on the justice system, one that is a crucial part of understanding the legal history of the United States.
Reveals one fascinating aspect of the legal system, informing the reader while demonstrating the value of artistic interpretation.
Pub Date: April 11, 2014
Page count: 248pp
Publisher: CUNY Journalism Press
Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014
A teenage crush gets interrupted by a horrible murder in this debut YA novel.
It’s the summer of 1962. Eighteen-year-old Paul Dawson just needs to make it through his senior year of high school and then he can leave suburban Caroline Hills in upstate New York behind to become a writer. Until then, he’s stuck lying in his bedroom, playing Roy Orbison songs over and over, and daydreaming about what it would be like to have a girlfriend. His handsome twin brother, Bobby, doesn’t have that problem. He’s the star quarterback; he’s dating the head cheerleader; and he’s also seeing Betty Jo Randall on the side. Then, one day, the perfect girl for Paul appears out of the blue and moves in right next door. “In another life, she must have been a mermaid,” thinks Paul, spying on her over the fence. “Someone that lovely can’t be just anybody. The sky gave her his grey blue eyes. Her rippling red hair cascades down her back like a waterfall. The wind loves her hair. I have never seen a girl let the wind have a way with her hair if she could help it before.” Jenny Winters has just moved in with her grandmother in Caroline Hills after her mother—with whom she’s never had a great relationship—kicked her out of the house for reasons the young woman would prefer not to talk about. Paul will do anything to hang out with Jenny, and she will do anything to stir up some trouble, which is how the two end up breaking into the lake house of the local doctor on the Fourth of July. The same day, Betty Jo is raped and killed—and Bobby is the obvious suspect. But Paul and Jenny think they may have seen the actual murderer, though they’ll need proof if anyone is going to believe them. Can the two outsiders crack the case open and save the town from a killer? And can Paul figure out a way to win the heart of his emotionally unavailable crush?
Williams’ prose is lively and smooth. While many of the characters feel like types, she imbues them with energy and humor that make them fresh. The narration shifts between Paul and Jenny, who are both delightfully angst-y, albeit in different ways. Here, Paul panics when Jenny instigates some spontaneous skinny-dipping at the lake: “I empty my pockets. I throw out my wallet, my pocket knife, my admission tickets to the fair, and some folded pieces of paper. I take off my socks and shoes….I pull off my belt so slowly. I don’t know what to do. What would Bobby do? Oh, hell. He’d already be in the lake now.” The characterization, especially the richness of the protagonists’ inner lives, helps the novel to feel bigger than its mystery plot. The author manages to capture the promise and danger of being young, particularly the dynamic of a teenage relationship where one person has lived a lot more life than the other. Readers will look forward to Williams’ future offerings.
An immersive, bracing mystery with a big heart.
Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2021
ELIZABETH WILLIAMS COURT ARTIST
The Illustrated Courtroom : 50 YEARS OF COURT ART: Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books, 2014
Capturing on Canvas the Downfall of Wall Street’s Criminals, 2014
O.J., Martha, Jagger, and Manson: Capturing Celebrities in the Dock, 2014
'The Illustrated Courtroom' Finds Art In Real-Life Legal Drama, 2014
New York City artist captures courtroom history in new book , 2014
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