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Mother-Daughter Sketch Artists Look Back On 30 Years In Court: ‘We Have The Best Legal Education You Can Get’


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They are our eyes inside the courtroom. When cameras aren’t allowed, professional sketch artists capture the moments that would otherwise go unseen.

“We get the best spot. Chair, I think that’s the angle, and we’re fighting about the angle” Andrea Shepard told CBS2’s Jessica Moore. “Take the most important person, that’s the one we have to put in. Number one, get him in. Make sure you have the judge, make sure you have the defense attorney and the AUSA. Anything else you got, that’s OK.”

Shirley and Andrea Shepard are celebrating 30 years as partners in court. The mother-daughter team says they’ve loved every minute of the last three decades.

“We have the best legal education you can get,” said Shirley Shepard. “We know opening statements, we know closing statements, we know when to laugh and when not to.”

Asked how they got into this, she replied, “Luck, pure luck.”

In 1991, Shirley Shepard took her experience as a textile designer for Bloomingdales and Macy’s and decided to try her hand at something new.

“I figured I might as well draw the person sitting in front of me. And the person sitting in front had his finger on his mouth like that. And I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said he’s Gotti,” she remembered.

The rest, as they say, is history — a history the two now document and analyze.

“We have been in the fashion business. We know what people wear, why they wear it, what it means,” Shirley Shepard said. “If the jury is wearing black or dull clothes, he’s guilty.”

Moore met the Shepards during the R. Kelly trial and said she was struck by how invested they were in the trial.

“Is that common?” Moore asked.

“No,” Shirley Shepard replied.

As they sift through 30 years of sketches, it’s clear the Shepards remember almost every detail of every trial they’ve covered.

“That’s Rosie [O’Donnell],” said Shirley Shepard.

“Ah, that was major,” Andrea Shepard added.

“This is Courtney Love. She didn’t like the way I did her hair,” Shirley Shepard said.

From Martha Stewart’s 2004 trial on charges of insider trading:

“This is Martha. Martha did not know how to dress. She came to court, not in a jacket, not in decent clothes, but with a sweater, like she was in Connecticut,” said Shirley Shepard. “Martha Stewart wanted me to make her pretty. I said, ‘Martha, 18 minutes, I can’t do it in 18 minutes.’”

Perhaps no defendant has left as much of an impression as Tom Brady.

“This is it, this is the one. I won’t talk about who’s a good artist and who isn’t a good artist,” Andrea Shepard said.

“The NFL said that he deflated the football, and because he deflated the football, he could throw it faster because he holds onto it better,” said Shirley Shepard. “Judge Berman said, ‘How come when you threw the ball and it was thoroughly filled up, you did better?’”

“No one taught us to be courtroom artists,” Andrea Shepard added. “We learned fast.”

“I taught her,” said Shirley Shepard.

“We learned together,” added Andrea Shepard.

Moore asked if they think they’ll be doing this for another 30 years.

“No,” Andrea Shepard replied.

“Of course,” Shirley Shepard said. “We do it because we’re hooked. We are literately hooked.”

Despite hundreds of requests over the years, the Shepards never sell their original drawings. They are kept in a vault, as insurance they say, just in case cameras are ever allowed in federal court.

This content was originally published here.

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