Fifty years ago, Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking into a pool hall. He could not afford a lawyer to defend him in court, and after a hasty trial, he was convicted. Had Gideon accepted his fate, he’d have been imprisoned for five years. But Gideon did challenge his conviction —all the way to the Supreme Court. The result was the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, which guarantees poor defendants the right to counsel in criminal cases. Weaving the story of this iconic case with contemporary portraits of legal injustice, the film DEFENDING GIDEON highlights the importance of a system that guarantees representation for all—and the dire consequences when that system fails.
Narrated by Martin Sheen
Premiered at the Department of Justice, March 2013
Screened in Congress