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Broken Justice

In 1997, Ricky Kidd was sentenced to life without parole for a double homicide he says he didn’t commit. And, he argues, his court-appointed lawyer is the reason. In the U.S. justice system, everyone has the right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one. But what happens when your lawyer is overworked, underfunded and unable to do their job? From the PBS NewsHour, a look inside the crisis that is overwhelming Missouri’s public defender system and what it means for serving justice in America.

Episode 1

Episode 1: Triage

Can an attorney handle more than 100 criminal cases at a time? That’s the reality for a public defender like Jeff Esparza, who represents defendants unable to afford their own lawyers in Kansas City. The public defender system in Missouri—and…

Episode 2

Episode 2: How did we get here?

Americans didn’t always have the right to an attorney. It all started with a pool hall robbery in Florida, and an unlikely legal advocate: a poor drifter named Clarence Earl Gideon. Gideon brought the fight for free counsel to the…

Trailer

Broken Justice Trailer

In 1997, Ricky Kidd was sentenced to life without parole for a double homicide he says he didn’t commit. And he says his court-appointed lawyer is the reason. In the U.S. justice system, everyone has the right to an attorney,…