Gideon's Army

Gideon's Army takes the first word of its title from Gideon vs. Wainwright, the landmark US Supreme Court decision that gave every citizen the fundamental right to legal representation in a criminal case even if he or she cannot afford it. The “Army” in the title refers to the tenacious public defenders that have shouldered the burden for this representation for the past 50 years, handling 80 percent of the staggering 12 million criminal cases a year that are tried in the US. In this powerful and moving, award-winning documentary, lawyer turned filmmaker Dawn Porter follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young, idealistic public defenders in the Deep South as they struggle to represent their indigent clients while working in understaffed, underfunded offices. Clearly, the promise of the Gideon vs. Wainwright decision has not been fulfilled. These foot soldiers of justice toil long hours for low pay. They shoulder impossible caseloads of over 100 clients at one time, often at great personal sacrifice. Many of their clients have been improperly charged and have no option but to accept a plea bargain because they do not have the financial resources to adequately investigate charges. Porter shines a much deserved light on these unsung civil rights heroes of our time. Sundance Film Festival, 2013.
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