“Replacement camera” outlines the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell | Taiwan News

NEW YORK (AP) – As Ghislaine Maxwell entered the courtroom on the first day of her sex trafficking trial, no photographer was allowed to catch her. Courtroom artist Elizabeth Williams, however, was ready and before the end of the hour the curtain-raising scene was broadcast to news outlets around the world.

Cameras are generally prohibited in federal courts. And unlike disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein – also drawn by Williams but photographed many on the way there and back from his sexual abuse trial – Maxwell was still jailed during his trial, transported back and forth out of sight of the press. and the public.

“I’m basically the replacement camera,” Williams said, noting that she “doesn’t use an artistic license to move anything.”

Williams has been in the public eye in courtrooms since 1980 and has drawn for the Associated Press since 2004, although the typical wave of courthouse activity has slowed during the coronavirus pandemic. Maxwell’s was the first full trial covered by Williams from the courtroom itself in the pandemic era, just after R. Kelly’s own sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn federal court.

There, the judge barred the media from entering the courtroom. Williams was therefore forced to remove the R&B singer and witnesses from the monitors to an overflow room, where she said everything was blurry and “the judge’s head was the size of a dime.” At the Manhattan Federal Courthouse, on the other hand, Williams was seated close enough to Maxwell to hear him speak French to his siblings.

Williams had to refine his judgment on the news to keep abreast of the moments that will become indelible images. And the sketches are just that, indelible – there’s no room for an eraser in the “whole huge bag of art supplies” she brought to court. She uses high quality brushes, pens and pastels and estimates that she throws up half of the sketches she starts.

During Maxwell’s month-long trial, which ended with conviction last week, Williams says he produced around 100 sketches of testimony, arguments from lawyers, jurors, judge, spectators and, most importantly, the accused. herself.

“It’s great when you can draw an essay a lot, because the more you can draw someone the better you’re going to draw them,” Williams said, adding that Maxwell “kept a pretty cool character” that needed careful study. .

Jeffrey Epstein, on the other hand, was “incredibly agitated”. Williams lured Epstein, Maxwell’s ex-boyfriend turned employer, to his unsuccessful bail hearings before his suicide in prison in 2019.

Here, Williams presents the PA through his sketchbook, coloring key moments from Maxwell’s trial with his behind-the-scenes observations:


Williams prefers a wall between herself and the subjects: “I don’t like to befriend someone I draw. I watch them because they make the news for me and I want them to stay that way.

Maxwell crossed that divide, gaining attention for drawing the courtroom artists themselves. A meta-sketch by Reuters artist Jane Rosenberg of Maxwell drawing it has even gone viral.

Williams said Maxwell was well aware of artists, but it was initially unclear what exactly the accused was doing on his own pad of paper. Even after Williams found out the accused was drawing artists, she remained on her side of the divide, making her own sketch of Maxwell at work but undisturbed.

“I was like, ‘OK, that’s good. Do what you want. But that won’t affect anything I do, ”said Williams.

Williams said Maxwell occasionally posed on purpose, which actually served the artist’s goals.

“It’s a lot more captivating to have someone, they’re looking directly at the camera, or they are looking directly at the artist, and so people looking at the drawing see someone looking at them,” Williams said.

The momentum continued until the final day of the trial, when Maxwell appeared to be backed up by a jury note hours before the verdict.

“There’s this question of the jury about – they wanted the defense testimony from these defense witnesses. And she’s sitting around her chair, and sometimes she would do that – not very often – but she did it again: she started posing for us, ”Williams said. “I said to myself: ‘OK! Very well. If that’s what she wants! And that was the picture of the day other than the fact that she was, you know, doomed. “


The prosecution case revolved around four accusers, three who testified under pseudonyms or using first names only – Jane, Kate and Carolyn. Courtroom artists were ordered not to draw portraits, which for Williams meant avoiding facial features.

To capture the often moving testimony, Williams looked the other way: “Everyone’s faces have a different shape. Some faces are more angular, some people’s faces are rounder. Jane’s face was certainly rounder than Kate’s. And Carolyn’s face was more square.

Hands are another key, she said.

Jane wasn’t that lively in testifying to how Epstein grabbed her, Williams said.

“But she used her hands in such a way,” said Williams. “And I practiced drawing hands a lot. I mean, you have to be able to draw hands, you have to do it, especially when you draw a witness where you can’t draw the face, you have to rely on them. hands.

Carolyn’s hands were particularly catchy.

“She had all these rings on her fingers and nails very well groomed and very sweet red hair. And I was like, you know, if she puts a hand on her face, the money is poured in there, because it’s going to tell you more about her even than her face could, ”Williams said.


A courtroom artist should remain vigilant during great times, even when a witness may not appear to be a headliner.

Testimony from an FBI analyst yielded one of the more bizarre images of the trial, as prosecutors displayed a photograph the analyst found that appeared to show Maxwell massaging Epstein’s foot with his fingers. breasts.

Williams knew it was her move, so much so that she didn’t have time to assess Maxwell’s reaction.

“I have to tell you the truth. When I saw that, I was so focused on the fact that I thought to myself, I can’t, I couldn’t focus on her. I had to focus on drawing this thing, ”she said.

The photographs were displayed for what appeared to be a maximum of seven seconds, “which means I draw like the wind.”

A government official sitting in front of Williams even turned around at one point, she said, to greet the way she captured that scene.


Maxwell constantly communicated with his lawyers and made daily displays of physical affection with them.

“Oh my God. Cuddle party. All those avocados hugged each other,” Williams said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Williams said she noticed Maxwell started to get a little more restless as the trial progressed, but her stoicism returned upon reading the verdict.

“She put her hand on her head and her lawyer put her hand on her back,” Williams said. “And that was it. That was it. There was no other reaction.

That day, there were no hugs for the lawyers while she was out.


Williams began her career as a skilled fashion illustrator.

“So Maxwell is totally in my back alley,” she said. “Every time she walked into the courthouse, with the two American marshals, she always made an entrance like she was going down a trail, I swear to God.”

Williams said the British socialite made her presence apparent in the way she stood, arms back, “her swagger, swaying a bit”.

Her outings could also leave an impression, including her latest as she exited the courtroom after the verdict.

“But then when they took her out, after the verdict, it wasn’t just about dating these two marshals that brought her in. It was her and then two other big guys,” Williams said, commenting on the contrast between Maxwell’s agility and beefy men. “It was such a theme. And she walked past them. It was mind-blowing. It was mind-blowing. It was just, what an end to it all.”

Janice J. Kostka