Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians, and Murderers in an American Courtroom

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In 1969 artist Andy Austin pitched herself as a substitute for an ABC TV courtroom sketch artist who didn’t show up to cover the Chicago 7 trial, thus beginning her career of more than 40 years of covering some of the city’s and the nation’s most notorious trials—all documented in this compilation. Rule 53 dictates no cameras allowed in the courtroom, so mobsters, politicians, spies, terrorists, gang members, and serial killers on trial leave their mark on history through the artist's renderings. This engaging memoir and firsthand account of how the drama of the courtroom stage really unfolds will delight history and true crime buffs, court watchers, and anyone fascinated by the nuances of character only an artist can capture.

No Cameras Allowed

In the late 1960s, new to Chicago and bored with the still life subjects she painted in her home studio, artist Andy Austin began wandering the city in search of surprises from life as it is really lived. Chicago delivered--with the color and drama of volatile times and larger-than-life subjects. The streets were alive with noisy demonstrations, against the war in Vietnam, and in support of issues ranging from civil rights to raises for schoolteachers. Austin sketched picket lines and protests and sometimes joined them, soaking up every detail with crystalline clarity. When she turned her skills to court drawing, her stunning ability to capture pivotal moments and revealing human interactions gave Chicagoans an unparalleled you-are-there view of trials and personalities that made headlines.

Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians, and Murderers in an American Courtroom is a vivid memoir by one of the country's best visual chroniclers of courtroom proceedings. Austin's gift for seeing essential details offers intimate glimpses of defendants like the Chicago 7 radicals, the Black Panthers and the El Rukns, serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and a parade of mobsters. In prose as deft and insightful as her sketches, she shares her portraits of the lawyers, judges, politicians, and others involved in cases she observed, salutes friends and colleagues, and shares personal experiences that influenced her unique perspective on local history in the making.


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Andy Austin does a remarkable job as a Chicago courtroom artist, and in her book, the truth comes through as vividly as in her sketches.”  —Studs Terkel

“For those who think they’ve seen and read everything about what goes on in court, here is a new perspective: the engaging, incisive, and consistently interesting view of renowned courtroom artist Andy Austin.”  —Scott Turow

“Gripping, beautifully written, Rule 53 is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the tangled threads of the high-profile courtroom cases that have shaped our country’s direction for the last four decades. Andy Austin, as ABC’s Chicago courtroom artist, had a front row seat at every major trial from the 1969 Chicago 7 spectacle through Muhammad Salah’s recent acquittal on terrorism charges."  —Sara Paretsky

“I like Andy Austin’s quick mind and quick eye. She sees the drama, the humanity and, yes, even the humor in Chicago’s greatest theaters—its courtrooms. Her memoirs, beautifully illustrated, provide an amazing look at the inner workings of America’s most ebullient city.”  —Jon Anderson, Chicago Tribune

"Austin, a gifted courtroom artist with a clear eye and a fine ear, captures, in fast moving words, the compelling drama of big trial. No one has ever drawn a better courthouse portrait, in words and pictures, of the courtroom in action. The book should have been twice as long. Don't miss this."  — James B. Zagel, U.S. District Court Judge

"The sharp-witted courtroom sketch artist . . . has proven she's also a good reporter—penning a book crammed with drama and inside stories from the gritty world of criminal trials."  —Mike Robinson, Associated Press

"Austin uses more than illustrations to take readers on a historical tour of famous Chicago trials. She proves herself a sharp observer—a true reporter—whose neutral status in the courtroom gives her a singular relationship with many of the parties."  —Natasha Korecki, Chicago Sun-Times

"For years, Chicagoans have known Andy Austin as the brilliant courtroom artist whose sketches revealed not just the appearance of judges, lawyers, jurors, defendants, and plaintiffs but their characters. Now it turns out that this brilliance has concealed literary brilliance. It seems that while Andy Austin was sketching away, her intelligence and sympathy were penetrating the nature of what was happening in the courtroom, the essential character of those involved, their relationship to each other and to the complex world in which they functioned or malfunctioned. She has worked for years to bring all this into a book and here it is, a triumph of sympathetic intelligence that reveals more about human beings than many a fine novel and is at least as engrossing."  —Richard Stern, author

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893121539
  • Publisher: Lake Claremont Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 413
  • Sales rank: 1,501,069
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Andy Austin is an artist who has been present at many of the most exciting and important trials in Chicago courtrooms over the last 40 years, drawing for the public the historic scenes that Rule 53 prevents cameras from documenting.

Artist Andy Austin has been present at many of the most exciting and important trials in Chicago courtrooms over the last 40 years, drawing for the public the historic scenes that Rule 53 prevents cameras from documenting. She has honed the keen observational skills and humanistic eye that enliven her penetrating sketches over a lifetime of arts, adventure, travel, and extensive reading. Though long admired for her talent of capturing the world of the courtroom in images, it is now clear that her gift extends to the written word as well.

Andy Austin was born in Boston to an artistic father bred of puritans and sea captains and a mother from Chicago who attempted to be a proper hostess, including the night Salvador Dali showed up for dinner with a dead bird on his head. When she was thirteen, her family moved to Florida so her father could photograph polo ponies and society women. Having previously attended only private, all-girls schools, Andy found her two years at a large, co-ed public high school in Florida made a deep impression on her. After graduating from Shipley, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, Andy went on to Vassar College, where she majored in English and minored in philosophy (she took no art classes). She was accepted into Berkeley where she intended to do graduate work in Latin American studies, but after wandering around Europe for a summer, she was inspired to stay in Italy and studied (though she says that's too strong a word) art in Florence at the Accademia di Belle Arti. She enrolled in the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when she returned to the United States.

That autumn she met her first husband, a Harvard Law School student. She gave birth to their son at the end of her second year in art school. They moved after that to Washington, DC, where her husband worked in the Justice Department while Andy stayed home and tried to paint. When the Berlin Wall was built, her husband's reserve unit was called up and suddenly their family was moved to Oklahoma for a year at Fort Sill. When he was discharged, they moved to Vienna, where he wrote music and studied conducting and she was a hausfrau. When they moved back to Chicago, her husband was hired as a music teacher at the Latin School just before Andy gave birth to their daughter. In 1969, when their son was nine and their daughter five, Andy was hired by ABC News to cover the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and has worked for the local television station ever since, her prolific career the subject of this book.

In 1994 Andy married Ted Cohen, a philosopher at the University of Chicago. They have traveled all over the world (Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Poland, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Germany, and Israel), often for philosophy conferences. She always draws at the lectures and, as she does, finds herself blissfully happy because she's provided what she loves most--new faces to explore accompanied by an interesting soundtrack.

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Table of Contents

The Chicago Conspiracy 8: The United States v. David T. Dellinger et al.     1
The Seventies: The Black Panthers and the Trials of Edward Hanrahan and Otto Kerner     41
A Spy Story: The United States v. William Kampiles     67
The Chief of Sinners: The People of the State of Illinois v. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.     77
A Rogues Gallery: The Mob, I     115
Valentine's Days: The Mob, II: The United States v. Ernest Rocco Infelise et al.     141
The Slums' Revenge: The El Rukn Trials     201
A Menagerie of Allegations: The El Rukn Post-Trial Hearings     247
The Star and the Robe: United States of America v. Thomas J. Maloney & Robert McGee     281
A Surreal Landscape: The Sentencing of Thomas J. Maloney     325
An Enigma: The People of the State of Illinois v. Harry Aleman     333
The Administrative Appeal of Assistant United States Attorney William Hogan     359
Glossary     381
Bibliography     395
Index     397
Acknowledgments     411
About the Author     415
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2008

    Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians, and Murderers in an American Courtroom

    'Every city should have an Andy Austin. Lucky Chicago, where for decades she has been the eye on lowlife when they appear in court, as cameras ain't allowed. Everybody knew she could draw 'still life classes paid off' but wow! can she write. Sharp but as sympathetic as it is possible to be when they are murderers, thugs, villains, spies, and mobsters. Those of us of a certain age will like her picture of the Chicago 7. Little misses her pen, whether the judges or the defendants's wives and girl friends. A book that any visitor to Chicago should read.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2008

    Rule 53: Capturing Hippies, Spies, Politicians, and Murderers in an American Courtroom

    'Every city should havean Andy Austin. For decades, she has been the eye on Chicago's lowlife when they appear in court, sketching them for TV as cameras ain't allowed. Everybody knew she could draw (still life lessons paid off) but Wow! can she write. She is that rare thing: bright, sharp, and as sympathetic as it's possible to be toward murders, spies, mobsters, thieves and crooks. For those of us of a certain age, she brings back the Chicago 7. Whatever the case,she is terrific on detail about judges and even what the defendants wore and what their wives and girl firends wore (and among the latter who was speaking to whom). As an old court watcher, I salute her. As an old court reporter, I bow down. Another thing: Fans of Chicago should own this, and give copies to visitors. Great truthful flavor.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 13, 2010

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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