William Hennessy Jr. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

William Hennessy Jr. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Inside Media: Court Reporting with a Sketch Pad

November 15, 2009

Guest: William Hennessy Jr.

By Elizabeth Balogun

In the courtroom where cameras are banned, William Hennessy Jr.'s sketch pad and pencils are allowed.

Hennessy has worked as a courtroom artist for more than 27 years, sketching such high-profile cases as the D.C. sniper, the controversial presidential election recount in 2000 and the White House scandal involving President Bill Clinton and former intern Monica Lewinsky.

Hennessy's new book, "All Rise: Courts, Crime, and Courtroom Art," is a compilation of his sketches.

"I look for moments that I think are key to telling a story," he said.

Courtroom proceedings are unpredictable, and the scene can change at any moment, according to Hennessy, who added that he sometimes has a couple of minutes or a few seconds to sketch. Time, he said, is usually the deciding factor.

"Things can suddenly change — someone collapses, there is some sort of outburst and they take the defendant back — so you better get it quick, get it fast, and get as much as you can," he said.

Hennessy signed copies of his book after the program.

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