Presumed Guilty | Chicago Reader

Presumed Guilty

Pamela Yates and Peter Kinoy inject an element of TV drama into their 2002 documentary on the San Francisco public defender's office with a chronological tease: their chronicle of a major criminal trial begins moments before the verdict is to be rendered, then a title—“Two months earlier”—takes us back to the beginning. They've chosen some compelling cases, such as the contract killing of a hairdresser, but the overheated title misrepresents the cases' outcomes: seemingly innocent parties are acquitted and guilty ones convicted. Most fascinating are the emotional bonds that form between lawyers and their hapless clients, and the personal lives of the lawyers, one of whom is a haunted insomniac who shares his doubts and misgivings in a video diary kept at the producers' request. 119 min.

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