By Guto Harri
BBC News, New York
Naomi Campbell stayed silent in the face of the media frenzy
The police usually look anxious when they are escorting someone to court who is accused of assault. Reporters tend to hang back. The public keep a distance.
On this occasion the cops were smiling, journalists were climbing over each other to get as close as possible, and passers-by found the anticipation contagious.
"Over the shoulder, please. Over the shoulder," shouted one snapper when the south London supermodel was about to disappear from view.
"She's stunning," said another, staring at her waist-long straightened hair.
For a while, he clearly thought he was covering glamour not news.
And it is a tribute to the 35-year-old cover girl in shades and a simple black outfit that she transformed the path to the courthouse into a makeshift catwalk.
'Peace and love'
Naomi Campbell was a school girl when a talent spotter approached her in Covent Garden and suggested modelling.
She has since been the face and body of Ralph Lauren, Versace, Jazz, Francois Nars, Dolce & Gabbana and Dsquared.
Her album, Baby Woman, sold more than a million copies, and she co-authored a best-selling novel called Swan.
Her online diary does not mention any court appearance, but provides a fascinating context for her brief appearance in court.
There are photo shoots for Louis Vuitton in Paris, Mont Blanc's 100th anniversary party in Geneva, a ball in Vienna last month and lunch with Quincy Jones and Nelson Mandela - described as her "very special grandfather".
She signs off with "peace and love".
So one wonders what went on in her Park Avenue pad in March which led her to these unlikely surroundings.
The charge is second degree assault - a serious offence which could land her in prison.
It followed a complaint from a former employee. Ana Scolavino has accused Miss Campbell of attacking her with a mobile phone.
Her lawyers deny that. But Naomi Campbell did admit to a similar attack on a former assistant in Canada six years ago. It did not land her in jail but she did apparently attend an anger management course afterwards.
On the eve of this appearance, another woman who used to be on her payroll filled a civil lawsuit accusing her of battery, assault and causing personal injury. Her lawyer has denied those fresh allegations.
Miss Campbell herself says absolutely nothing. Even when surrounded by the cameras, when her driver had not turned up, she smiled in silence.
Inside - when I approach her quietly - her current assistant tells me she is not talking as she tilts her head away from me.
I cannot help wondering whether they will end up quarrelling one day, or will this sobering experience make her as restrained and controlled in her personal life as she is on the catwalk.