Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 1963, the United States Supreme Court upheld the right of all citizens to free legal counsel should they be accused of a crime, but while defendants may be entitled to the services of a public defender, those who can't afford to hire a lawyer of their own soon discover the unfortunate facts -- there are only 15,000 public defenders in the entire United States, and most are dealing with literally hundreds of cases at a time, with little time and few resources to devote to their work. Jonathan Rapping is an attorney who operates the Southern Public Defender Training Center, where he oversees a staff of lawyers who struggle to see justice is done for a growing number of clients, many of whom often have the deck stacked against them due to race and poverty. Filmmaker Dawn Porter delivers a powerful profile of Rapping and two of his lawyers, Brandy Alexander and Travis Williams, in the documentary Gideon's Army, as they represent clients in a system that doesn't always acknowledge that all are innocent until proven guilty, and try to keep up with their work load in a profession where many leave for better paying and less frustrating alternatives. Gideon's Army received its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
lawyer, liberty, public-defender