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Presumed Guilty

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Presumed Guilty, a documentary on the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, airs Wednesday, October 22nd on PBS stations (check local listings).

I saw Presumed Guilty in March at packed screening at the Roxie attended by director Pamela Yates, most of the lawyers profiled in the film, and many of their co-workers. Associate Producer Rachel Raney (who I worked for on a Frontline documentary about General Motors when I interned at the Center For Investigative Reporting almost ten years ago).

Even if I didn’t know Rachel, I would urge people to watch this two hour long documentary. The filmmakers had extraordinary access, so there were able to tell some compelling stories. Footage of public defender Will Maas talking to a camcorder late at night during a trial is some of the most riveting I’ve seen. There is an absurd case that could almost come out of Catch-22. An investigator on one of the cases used to play drums for the Alarm.

It also shows the challenges faced by even one of the strongest and best funded public defenders offices in the country. An often overlooked part of the legal system is explained.

A long story by A.C Thompson (who was my co-worker when I was online editor at the Bay Guardian) shows Jeff Adachi‘s dedication in another case.

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