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Sundance review: "Gideon's Army"

Published January 22, 2013 7:56 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"Gideon's Army"

U.S. Documentary

***1/2 (three-and-a-half stars)

Until public defenders get their own TV show to answer the good press the D.A.'s of "Law & Order" got for all these years, director Dawn Porter's tough-minded documentary will have to do the trick. Porter, a former civil litigator, profiles three public defenders (two in Georgia, one in Mississippi) who work long hours for low pay to give poor people accused a crime a reasonable chance at a fair trial. (The movie's title comes from the Supreme Court case, Gideon v. Wainwright, which said having decent representation in court is a civil right.) What emerges in the film are indelible portraits in civil-liberties heroism as these lawyers deal with huge caseloads and unpaid student loans to defend people whose main crime is being too poor to fight a judicial system stacked against them.

— Sean P. Means

"Gideon's Army" screens again: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City; Thursday, 2:30 p.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City; Friday, 8:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre, Park City; Saturday, 3 p.m., Salt Lake City Library.