Get Inside the Criminal Justice System With the San Francisco Public Defenders
Presumed Guilty: Tales of the Public Defenders chronicles a year of trench warfare in jails, holding cells, courtrooms, law offices and police stations, revealing the criminal justice system as never seen before. A part of KQED Public Television's acclaimed national Emmy Award-winning Bay Window series, Presumed Guilty is a powerful look at the triumphs, defeats and moral dilemmas of a group of lawyers in the San Francisco public defender's office.
An individual accused of a crime has a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer. Studies show, however, that 90 percent of all people accused of crimes in San Francisco cannot afford private lawyers and are assigned public defenders. The Office of the Public Defender handles over 19,000 cases per year. While following two high-profile murder cases, Presumed Guilty explores what really goes on between defense attorneys and the accused in the inner sanctum of lawyer-client confidentiality.
Filmed and produced over three years by Pamela Yates and Peter Kinoy of Skylight Pictures, this film breaks new ground in its access to the privileged discussions between lawyers and clients as they grapple with facts, stories and strategies before, during and after their trials. In the program and on the Web site, the cases unfold through the eyes of the featured public defenders themselves. What they see, the audience sees. What they hear, the audience hears.
On this Web site, visitors can follow timelines to find detailed and intimate information about these real-life cases; see videoclips of the public defenders speaking in their own words; learn to better understand their own rights; and find Web sites and resources that explain more about crime, punishment, representation and the criminal justice system. They can also delve behind the scenes into the making of the film.
The program is also being screened across the United States. After one such screening, Christopher Stone, a legal scholar and director of the Vera Institute of Justice, commented
The vitality of the adversary system, with its robust defense of indigent defendants, is powerfully displayed in this film. It is an imperfect system, but one with strength and moral purpose. Yet the future of the adversary system in general, and the robust defense of the indigent in particular, are under threat today across the United States.
The full text of his remarks is available on the Web site.
Presumed Guilty is available for both home video purchase and educational use. To order a copy of Presumed Guilty contact:
330 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Presumed Guilty is a co-production of KQED Public Television 9 in San Francisco and Skylight Pictures in New York. It is directed by Pamela Yates and edited by Peter Kinoy. Rachel Raney is the co-producer. Executive producer is Sue Ellen McCann.
Presumed Guilty is underwritten by the KQED Campaign for the Future Program Venture Fund.