Presumed Guilty
The Defenders
The Cases
Research The System
Did You Know
About The Program
Know Your Rights
Research the System
Crime Punishment and Justice Understanding the Law More on Public Defenders
Related to the Television Show For Classroom Use
The television program Presumed Guilty focuses exclusively on the public defender, an attorney at a federal, state or local agency representing individuals who are accused of a crime but cannot pay for their own legal counsel. To get a better idea of how the role of the public defender fits into the larger context of the legal and criminal justice system, check out some of these Web sites.

Explore compelling public broadcasting sites with interactive features on crime, punishment and justice; research organizations that will help you understand the law; and find sites related to the television presentation and public defenders. Educators can also find sites appropriate for the classroom.


360degrees: Perspectives on the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Through the use of personal stories and a historical timeline, the 360degrees site examines trends in crime and the emotional effects of incarceration. Stories focus on individual cases and the feelings and reactions of the people involved. The site collaborates with educators and journalists to understand the causes behind the growth of the criminal justice system and work toward reversing those causes and, in turn, creating healthier communities.

Frontline: Real Justice

The PBS series Real Justice looks at the work and lives of prosecutors and defense lawyers. The companion Web site lists facts and statistics about lawyers, including their salaries and caseloads; offers information about court systems throughout the United States; and has a discussion page.

Frontline: Juvenile Justice

This PBS Frontline Web site features four young people who faced serious charges and discusses how the court dealt with each of them. Learn about the "adult versus child" controversy, juvenile courts and what stimulates violence in children.

NPR: All Things Considered, "Thoughts on Crime and Punishment,"
Friday, June 13, 1997

This audio report from All Things Considered features a conversation with William Schweiker, University of Chicago associate professor of the divinity school; New York Supreme Court Judge Harold Rothwax; and Southern Mississippi University criminal justice teacher Donald Cabana about our society's view on punishment.

NPR: Talk of the Nation, "Bill of Rights: Sixth Amendment,"
Monday, March 11, 1996.

This audio report features Ray Suarez in conversation with a defense lawyer and judge about who gets "effective counsel" in an exploration of the Sixth Amendment. It also features the perspective of a convicted murderer in Georgia, and an examination of whether or not juries adequately represent the community.

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Bureau of Justice Assistance

The Bureau of Justice Assistance program is a function of the U. S. Department of Justice. It was created to involve the public in understanding the justice system and its effect on individual communities, and to inspire collaboration in ensuring the safety of neighborhoods, schools and workplaces.

United States Sentencing Commission

As an independent agency, the U.S. Sentencing Commission forms a part of the judicial branch of government. The commission has three major responsibilities. It creates sentencing policies for the federal courts. It advises Congress on the development of crime policy. Finally, it uses research and analysis to provide federal crime and sentencing information to Congress, the courts, criminal law practitioners and the public.

Legal Information Institute, Cornell University

The Legal Information Institute site stocks a wealth of information, from a detailed list of law categories and corresponding laws, to constitutions and codes, to the American Legal Ethics Library. The site is complete with directories of lawyers, organizations, journals and law schools.

An Anatomy of a Criminal Trial

This article on the Nolo -- Law for All site outlines court procedures in a concise and manageable way. From the beginning of a case, when the defendant chooses to be tried by a judge or a jury, to the closing and sentencing, this page will explain all of the steps.

Talk Justice -- The World's Criminal Justice Forum

Talk Justice is an open forum for criminal justice practitioners, academicians, students, crime victims and concerned citizens. In addition to discussion, the site offers a useful "cybrary" (online library) of information about crime prevention, due process, gangs, police, unsolved crimes and many other issues.

The American Bar Association

The American Bar Association is listed as the largest voluntary professional association in the world. It aims to improve lawyers' careers through continuing education and programs for lawyers and judges. For the public, the ABA provides access to legal information and advocates initiatives to improve the legal system.

Bureau of Justice Statistics
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

The Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics provides information about the criminal justice system. The site is divided into six sections that include statistics about the following: the criminal justice systems, public attitudes toward crime and criminal justice-related topics, the nature and distribution of known offenses, characteristics and distribution of persons arrested, judicial processing of defendants, and persons under correctional supervision.

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The Burden of Defense -- Surviving a Rookie Year in the Alameda County Criminal Courts

In this article, the reader learns real-life truths about the concept of fair trial and the difficulties of having noble intentions as a public defender. Stephanie Hartung is a rookie public defender in Alameda County. Over half of her clients claim innocence, in hopes of obtaining a better outcome through a trial, although they are guilty of the charges against them. Hartung contends with numerous difficult cases and learns that justice is not black-and-white.

NPR: Morning Edition, "Poor Public Defense," Thursday, July 13, 2000.

In this audio download, Janet Heimlich reports from Austin on the way public defenders in capital murder cases are chosen in Texas. According to NPR, "County judges appoint private attorneys to represent indigent murder defendants. Critics say the system is flawed because there is no guarantee that a defendant will get a competent lawyer, or that the judge will approve funds to properly investigate the defendant's case."

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Offices featured in the television program:

San Francisco County, Office of the Public Defender

San Francisco County, Office of the District Attorney

National counterparts of the public defender and district attorney roles:

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association

National District Attorneys Association

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Directory of Prosecuting Attorneys, District Attorneys, Attorneys General and U.S. Attorneys on the Web

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"Law Day," American Bar Association -- Division for Public Education

Intended for high school students, this online education resource from the American Bar Association gives educators concrete exercises to help students understand the key role juries play in trials. Suggested activities encourage students to tackle controversial contemporary issues such as the privacy of defendants in high-profile public trials and the relatively recent inclusion of women in jury service. A jury selection simulation offers inquisitive kids the chance to become legally informed potential jurors in a trial.

Teacher Resources From the National Constitution Center

Through exercises such as "Mock Court Trial of 'Dances With Wolves'" or "Constitution Case Study," students from middle and high school can actively explore the inner workings of our justice system, from Supreme Court role-playing to meting out sentences at a mock court martial.

American Experience: "Murder of the Century"

From the PBS series American Experience, this exciting set of lesson plans based on the 1906 shooting of a wealthy Manhattan architect by a jealous millionaire asks students to investigate the media's role in criminal proceedings and the effect of social class on the criminal justice system.

Mock Trial lessons

Anatomy of a Murder: A Trip Through Our Nation's Legal Justice System

Part cliff-hanger, part legal primer, this Web site will have upper grade students enthralled as they embark on a journey through the criminal justice system, beginning in a sleepy Arizona town where a homicide has been committed. The unfolding tale of murder and intrigue will have students sitting at the edge of their keyboards, suspense-hooked, turning the digital pages until justice has finally been delivered. Each "chapter" of the story reveals the very real, complex legal issues involved in a criminal trial and the relationships among all of its participants, from law enforcement officials to the victim's family and the accused defendant.

"Mock Trial Preparation and Procedures," American Bar Association Special Committee on Youth Education for Citizenship

Mock trials are an excellent way for young people to develop critical thinking, hone speaking skills and master understanding of courtroom procedures through academically accessible exercises. Through step-by-step instructions, this how-to guide offers teachers a blueprint for creating their own mock trials in a classroom setting.

University Campus Mock Trials

This Q&A page from Bradley University is intended to help college undergraduates answer their questions about mock trials -- what they consist of and what their value is -- whether they are law school-bound or just want to improve their debating skills. It even offers definitions of legal terms used in a courtroom setting.

National High School Mock Trial Championship

Ever since its inception in 1984, this national mock trial tournament has striven to "heighten appreciation for the principle of equal justice for all." Aspiring contestants can click on this link to see if their high school team has the courtroom savvy to litigate its way to the top this coming May in Minnesota.

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