Gideon’s Army

22 Apr

Gideon’s Army

From HBO:

GIDEON’S ARMY follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick—three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by mentor Jonathan “Rap” Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center, they struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads so common that even the most committed often give up in their first year. Nearly 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling Gideon vs. Wainwright that established the right to counsel, can these courageous lawyers revolutionize the way America thinks about indigent defense and make “justice for all” a reality?

Here’s the trailer:

NC Policy Watch’s Sharon McCloskey interviewed attorney and filmmaker Dawn Porter.

Though unplanned by Porter and her media people, the film’s showing here roughly coincides with the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which established a right to counsel for anyone unable to pay for one. It also coincides with last week’s death of former The New York Times reporter and writer, Anthony Lewis, who in 1964 chronicled the case in the book “Gideon’s Trumpet”—a law school classic that has never gone out of print.

In “Gideon’s Army,” Porter captures the lives of the public defenders—at work and at home—as they face staggering caseloads and confront a system seemingly more interested in having the defenders move their cases than in providing their clients with justice.

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