Trials & Litigation

Meet Marilyn Church, Courtroom Artist Who Depicted Woody Allen and John Gotti


For over 35 years Marilyn Church has sketched the courtroom personas of celebrities such as Woody Allen and well-known criminal defendants including Dapper Don John J. Gotti. And she still finds the work interesting.

“It’s people’s lives on the line,” she tells the New York Times. “The lawyers get intense, passionate. You watch the defendant’s face—the calm in their eyes that is trying to look stoic and not guilty.”

Paid about $350 a day to portray individuals who can’t be photographed in court, she got her start and made the shift from fashion illustrator to courtroom artist when a friend pointed her to a misconduct trial of a Queens district attorney. Along the way, she has watch many a high-profile trial and sometimes been drawn into the fray herself. Gotti, for example, at one point drew a line across his neck with his hand, apparently directed at Church, because he felt her illustration of him had been unflattering, the newspaper reports.

Now the Library of Congress is collecting Church’s work, having acquired 3,500 sketches for an undisclosed amount of money.

Updated at 9 p.m. to include additional details from Times article.

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