Sketchy Reunion for Courtney Love, Heidi Fleiss and Other Courtroom Celebs

25 Years of Legal Drama Captured in Courtroom Artist's Retrospective


April 25, 2006 —  If their celebrated trials had gone differently, Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and rocker Courtney Love might've met up in jail instead of a Los Angeles art gallery, where some of the most famous and infamous courtroom stars will look back at 25 years of celebrity justice.

The launch party on Thursday for courtroom artist Mona Shafer Edwards' "Captured! Inside the World of Celebrity Trials" promises to be a gathering like no other, with famed criminal defense lawyers Tom Mesereau and Mark Geragos meeting O.J. Simpson trial judge Lance Ito, celebrities who've had brushes with the law, and prosecutors who tried to make them pay for their alleged crimes.

Over wine and cheese, these courtroom stars will rehash moments from the high profile trials Edwards has captured in marker and pen: Simpson staring passively from the defense table while images of his murdered wife are shown in open court; the Cosby family confronting their son's murderer; and many others.

To be sure, the brutality of these trials is hardly cause for celebration. Rather, Edwards' quarter-century of sketches are a testament to one of the oldest traditions for getting at the essence of what transpires inside a courtroom.

And while Edwards has had a front seat at the trials of Rodney King, Richard Ramirez and the Menendez brothers, her work in "Captured!" — accompanied by written recollections — deftly captures those odd moments, filled with dark humor, when a legal proceeding becomes a public obsession.

"The courtroom artist is something of a throwback to a more innocent day when there was more respect for the image in the courtroom," Edwards says.

"But even when there's a camera in the courtroom, I think we artists are capturing the real emotion."

No doubt celebrity justice has become a cottage industry — a disturbing reflection of America's obsession with its stars — and Edwards' book is as star-studded as any glitzy magazine, with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Catharine Zeta-Jones, Steven Spielberg, Winona Ryder, Dolly Parton, Snoop Dogg, Tommy Lee, Dustin Hoffman, Farrah Fawcett and Clint Eastwood in court for trials involving stalking, domestic abuse, palimony, copyright infringement, shoplifting, wrongful death and, of course, divorce.

"It's amazingly hard trying to sketch a celebrity, because you have an image of them from what you've seen, but you have to capture the person who is in the courtroom," she says.