Friday, March 2, 2018

Day 1 of the Noor Salman Trial.

Courtroom sketches are available to purchase for use by the media. No phones allowed in court. Text or call (407) four five zero - 0807. I will get in touch after court lets out. 

Day one of the Noor Slaman trial held at the Federal Court building in Downtown Orlando was a solid day of jury selection. AS an update,  Salman is the widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. She is standing trial for aiding and abetting her husband. I got to the courthouse in the afternoon. Across the street from the entrance to the courthouse was a lone protester holding a sign that said something like "Fry her until she doesn't have a Pulse."

I have been covering the trial to date as a courtroom artist, but the day I was supposed to pick up my press badge, I was told that another artist underbid me for the assignment for the local media. It came as a shock since no one negotiated with me to iron out any details. Getting through security was awkward since I was no longer with the press. I was a private citizen wanting to sit in on the proceedings, but I also had a sketchbook. That sketchbook became the issue. The guards didn't know what to do with me. I was told to go up to the press overflow court but the guard there had to send me back downstairs for a press badge at the clerks office. The clerk sent me to the main courtroom since I explained that I wasn't press, but the guard there wouldn't let me in with a sketchbook. I believe the issue was that the judge doesn't want any jurors sketched. I understand the concern and wouldn't have sketched a juror but it is day one and everyone is trying to get there bearings. The guards were a delight honestly. It was fun to joke about my plight as a rogue artist. I ultimately ended up in the press room having been issued a press pass. My press badge says that I am working for Channel 6 News. Another courtroom was set aside for survivors and family of victims. That arrangement is set up to keep the press and family separate.

I was told by an Orlando Sentinel reporter that only 4 jurors had been interviewed in the morning. By the end of the day 10 jurors were interviewed. Judge Byron had picked up the pace by the afternoon when I arrived. Each juror is issued a number to  maintain their privacy. Juror #1 was of the opinion that police are quick to judge sometimes. She had been profiled in her youth and it stuck with her. Juror #35 had a step daughter who was arrested in South Florida. She said her daughter served just a couple of weeks in prison and has grown up since. When asked about what she felt about recreational shooting of a gun at a gun range, she stopped and asked why someone would want to shoot a gun at a range. She was pretty sure she would hold it against Noor if she knew that the defendant had shot a gun at a gun range for fun and recreation. Juror # 6 had experienced grand theft and domestic abuse. She said that in Brooklyn where she came from it was a rite of passage to get your car stolen at some point. She also had a daughter who had several co-workers who died at Pulse.

Of the 10 prospective jurors interviewed, 6 were selected to possible be on the jury of 12. On Friday March 2, 2018 the plan is for 14 more prospective jurors to be interviewed. 60 potential jurors will be put in the juror pool before it is narrowed down to 12 jurors and 6 alternates. Judge Paul G. Byron asked all the questions and by the end of the day his voice was giving out a bit. Jury selection could take 7 to 10 days with the case being closed possibly by the first week of April. Although I never got into the courtroom, I could see on the monitors that the room wasn't full. That gives me hope that someday I will get into the courtroom as a citizen with a sketchbook. I was shocked that the place wasn't crowded. But the national media outlets don't find jury selection very sexy. They will come out in force once the details of the case are being presented.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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