A new HBO documentary, Gideon's Army, follows three black public defenders working in the Deep South.
In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested for stealing soda and a few dollars from a pool hall. Unable to afford an attorney, he was convicted after representing himself at trial. Gideon appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that the right to counsel in a criminal case is fundamental to the American system of justice. More than 12 million people are arrested in the United States each year. Fifty years after the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case, most of them will be represented by one of the United States' 15,000 public defenders. Directed by attorney Dawn Porter and winner of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Editing Award for U.S. Documentary Competition, GIDEON'S ARMY follows a group of idealistic young public defenders in the Deep South, where lawyers face particularly difficult challenges due to high bonds, minimum mandatory sentencing and a culture that is traditionally "tough on crime."