College of Law Cosponsors ‘Gideon’s Army’ Documentary Screenings


In 1961 Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested for stealing soda and a few dollars from a pool hall. He could not afford an attorney and was convicted after representing himself at trial. Gideon appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, which, in a unanimous decision, ruled 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. GIDEON’S ARMY, an HBO documentary, follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.

We’re thrilled to announce that GIDEON’S ARMY will be presented in Dallas with feature screenings followed by panel discussions this October 2nd & 3rd. 

When: Thursday, October 2, 11:30 – 1:30
Where: SMU Dedman School of Law, Underwood Law Library
3315 Daniel Avenue

The American Constitution Society of SMU Law will also host a lunch featuring excerpts from the film and an abridged panel discussion. Those interested in attending should contact Douglas Luippold at

When: Thursday, October 2, 5:00 pm
Where: UNT Dallas & UNT Dallas College of Law
Founders Hall 138A&B
7400 University Hills Blvd
When: Friday, October 3, 7:00 pm
Where: Texas Theatre (public screening)
231 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Oak Cliff, TX 75208
(3 blocks from Bishop Arts)

The panel after the public screening will include:

State Rep. Rafael Anchia
June Hardwick (one of the three public defenders followed in the film)
Michaela Himes (Dallas County Assistant Public Defender and past participant and current supervisor – Gideon’s Promise)
Richard Miles (exonerated after 15 years of wrongful conviction and founder of non-profit Miles of Freedom)
Lynn Pride Richardson (Dallas County Chief Public Defender)


Amnesty International – Dallas Chapter
Dallas Can Do Better
Dallas County Public Defender’s Office
Dallas Hispanic Bar Association
Miles of Freedom 
SMU Dedman School of Law chapter of the American Constitutional Society
SMU Embrey Human Rights Program
Trilogy Films
UNT Dallas
UNT Dallas College of Law

An official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, recipient of the prestigious Documentary Film Award from the Ridenhour Prizes and the American Bar Association’s 2014 Silver Gavel Award and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and 2014 Emmy Award®, 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.” Brandy Alexander, Travis Williams and June Hardwick have dedicated themselves to defend those who otherwise would not get representation. These lawyers contend with a day-to-day life of low pay, long hours and staggering caseloads. Despite these obstacles, with the help from Gideon’s Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender Training Center), these young professionals are inspired to take on this unique challenge in the name of public service. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter, GIDEON’S ARMY follows these young lawyers as they prepare their cases for trial.

The U.S. incarcerates more citizens annually than any other industrialized nation. At the beginning of 2008, 2.3 million Americans were behind bars, followed by China with 1.5 million.  Porter explains, "Americans are fascinated with crime, and yet few know the truth about how the criminal justice system really works. GIDEON’S ARMY presents a rare true look at the criminal justice system from the vantage point of the accused. I wanted to be sure the inspiring, challenging nature of the work these public defenders do – which involves a tremendous amount of personal sacrifice in service to our constitutional rights – was given the attention it deserved."

GIDEON’S ARMY is produced with major funding and support of the Ford Foundation.

GIDEON’S ARMY is directed and produced by Dawn Porter; producer, Julie Goldman; editor, Matthew Hamachek; co-producer Summer Damon; original music, Paul Brill. For HBO: senior producers, Nancy Abraham and Jacqueline Glover; executive producer, Sheila Nevins. 

Page last modified on September 29, 2014 at 3:12 pm.