Presumed Guilty: Tales of the Public Defenders chronicles a year of trench warfare in jails, holding cells, courtrooms, law offices and police stations, revealing the criminal justice system as never seen before. Presumed Guilty is a powerful look at the triumphs, defeats and moral dilemmas of a group of lawyers in the San Francisco public defender’s office.
An individual accused of a crime has a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer. Studies show, however, that 90 percent of all people accused of crimes in San Francisco cannot afford private lawyers and are assigned public defenders. The Office of the Public Defender handles over 19,000 cases per year. While following two high-profile murder cases, Presumed Guilty explores what really goes on between defense attorneys and the accused in the inner sanctum of lawyer-client confidentiality.
Presumed Guilty breaks new ground in its access to the privileged discussions between lawyers and clients as they grapple with facts, stories and strategies before, during and after their trials. In the program and on the website, the cases unfold through the eyes of the public defenders themselves. What they see, the audience sees. What they hear, the audience hears.