Gideon's Army
(96 min) USA
[watch trailer]
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Saturday 10/19, 4:15 PM (Session 7)

Director: Dawn Porter
Producers: Dawn Porter, Julie Goldman


More than seven million Americans are in jail, on probation or on parole. With the law providing the accused the right to a lawyer and a day in court, the US criminal justice is struggling to keep up. A key component of the American Justice system is the defense lawyer, a right granted in the 1963 Supreme Court Decision Gideon v. Wainwright. In Gideon, the Supreme Court ruled that every defendant facing imprisonment has the right to a lawyer. The decision changed American jurisprudence. Or did it? Overworked and underpaid, even criminal defense lawyers who try to do good work struggle to keep up. Jonathan Rapping founded the Southern Public Defender Training Center a program designed to support a new generation of exceptional public defenders. Rapping has dedicated his career to mentoring and training young lawyers, and he is acutely aware that the demands of the job take their toll on even the most committed. We follow three of the young lawyers Rapping has trained. With varying degrees of success, these lawyers struggle to live up to their ideals of what the criminal defense should be. Some succeed, others will fail, but everyone who watches their struggles will come away with a clearer understanding of what the criminal justice system truly looks like for those without money, power or fame.


Dawn Porter is the founder of Trilogy Films. She is an alumnus of the Tribeca All Access program, where she won the 2011 juried Creative Promise Award for Gideon's Army. Realscreen named Dawn one of their 2012 Doc Hot Shots "fifteen emerging directors to watch." Other Trilogy projects include Spies of Mississippi for ARTE Germany and PBS and a documentary about celebrity Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli for the Cooking Channel. Dawn also works as executive producer on Serious Moonlight, starring Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton and The Green, starring Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock) and Julia Ormond. Before becoming a filmmaker she was the director of News Standards and Practices at ABC News and vice president of Standards and Practices at A&E Networks. Dawn is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Georgetown University Law Center. She was a practicing attorney at Baker & Hostetler and ABC Television Networks before beginning her television career.

Contact Information:

Trilogy Films

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