Sunday, April 3, 2011

Police Investigate Courtroom Sketch Abuse

Ottawa - The Special Investigation Unit of the Ottawa Police Department is investigating reports from persons under trial that their likeness is being abused by courtroom sketch artists. After a recent investigation into police actions involving cellblock abuse, now complaints have been filed by suspects undergoing trial that their sketch likeness is far from their actual appearance, with some sketch artists taking complete liberty with their renderings of the courtroom scene. In one instance, a person was depicted as a "furry", a fictional anthropomorphic animal character with human personalities and characteristics that resembles a half-human, half Japanese Anime furry creature. Another sketch under investigation had one defendant in a domestic assault case resembling the fictional comic strip character "Cathy".

"We are investigating the matter further and hope to reach some kind of conclusion as to what's going on with the courtroom sketches." exclaimed Police Chief Vern White, who initiated the sketch investigation. Courtroom sketch artists are hired on a freelance basis, so pinpointing exact instances of sketchal abuse will be difficult. "For the most part, these artists do a great job in re-creating the scene within the courtroom, but sometimes they get a bit carried away, especially if the trial is boring or lengthy." Ottawa Judicial Court Sketch Supervisor Jan Harding explained. "We sometimes see artists take liberty with the suspects under trial, but we try and get them to modify the likeness before it goes to the papers." Harding remarked. Many of the sketch artists are hoping to break into the comic book scene or try to implement their own genre of drawing style into their sketches, which may or may not work well within the courtroom scenario.

One suspect under a murder trial has filed a formal complaint with the Ottawa Police Department citing it misrepresents his likeness and it is damaging to his street credit. "I don't want to look like some Japanamation freak!" replied murder suspect Kevin Gorbson, who filed a complaint that his courtroom sketch unfairly depicted him as a furry nymph. "My rep is on the line here, this whole sketch thing needs to be shut down!" Gorbson commented before heading back to the courtroom where his trial was soon to be sketched by Janice Thurcott, a third year Fine Arts student at the University of Ottawa.

Ottawa SIU is investigating the sketchal abuse complaints and will be making some artists accountable for their improper courtroom depictions.

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