Hot Sheet: Dirt, Pride, and Square Dancing
BY Advocate.com Editors
June 28 2013 7:20 PM ET
4: TV: Gideon's Army
Director Dawn Porter’s tremendously moving and inspirational HBO documentary Gideon’s Army may not seem like an LGBT film, but watch long enough and you’ll see the many reasons it is. First, there’s a gay couple in it — the parents to one of the main characters — and everyone else is either poor, disenfranchised, or working hard to keep up the progressive values that are inherent in advocating for those who cannot do so for themselves. The film revolves around the tremendous challenges facing three young African-American public defenders in the Deep South, who struggle to help our poorest and most marginalized folks in a system that is often stacked against them (not just through racism but also due to high bonds, minimum mandatory sentencingm and a culture that is traditionally "tough on crime”). Case in point: Clarence Earl Gideon, who in 1961 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 in 1963 ruled unanimously that the right to counsel in a criminal case is fundamental to the American system of justice. Now, 50 years after the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case, there are 15,000 public defenders in the U.S., tasked with representing 80% of the defendants whose cases make it through the courts. Gideon’s Army debuts Monday at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on HBO.