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Charleston artists apply skills to Blankenship trial

Register-Herald photo by Wendy Holdren Artists Rob Cleland and Jeff Pierson draw each other outside the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston while they wait for the verdict in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
Register-Herald photo by Wendy Holdren
Artists Rob Cleland and Jeff Pierson draw each other outside the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston while they wait for the verdict in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the past eight weeks, all eyes in the 5th floor courtroom of the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in Charleston have been on Don Blankenship.

But two sets of eyes are paying attention to every detail.

 Jeff Pierson and Rob Cleland, two Charleston artists, were commissioned by national and local media to sketch the daily court proceedings during the trial of the former Massey Energy CEO.

Although their styles are different, Pierson and Cleland are diligent about capturing the action and the emotion of the trial.

Theirs will be the only visual record of the trial — no TV camera crews, photographers or any other audio or visual recording devices are allowed inside federal courtrooms.

Pierson knows his work will be important for years to come and he’s trying his best to preserve that history. He hopes to submit some drawings to the West Virginia State Archives at the Cultural Center.

“It’s a great responsibility,” Pierson said. “I’m honored, but it’s a lot of pressure.”

Neither of the artists knew a great deal about Blankenship’s case before the trial started…

 

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