Exclusive - Dawn Porter Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  06/19/13
  •  | Views: 38,197

In this exclusive, unedited interview, Dawn Porter shares the origins of "Gideon's Army." (5:56)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

>> John: WELCOME BACK, MY

GUEST TONIGHT A FILMMAKER WHOSE

UPCOMING DOCUMENTARY FOR HBO IS

CALLED "GIDEON'S ARMY."

>> THE JUDGE IS GOING TO TELL

YOU THAT THE STATE FAILS TO

PROVE THEIR CASE IT IS YOUR

DUTY, YOU MUST ACQUIT.

THAT'S THE BEAUTY OF THIS

SYSTEM.

IT'S SET UP TO GIVE PEOPLE THE

PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE.

TO GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO

NOT JUST BE HEARD BUT HOLD THE

STATE ACCOUNTABLE.

YOU WANT TO TAKE MY LIBERTY,

YOU'VE GOT TO DO IT RIGHT.

AND IF YOU DON'T, ACQUIT.

THE FIFTH AMENDMENT TO THE

UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

GUARANTEES IT.

>> John: THAT'S WHAT I'M

TALKING ABOUT.

PLEASE WELCOME DAWN PORTER.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THE DOCUMENTARY IS MIND BLOWING.

>> OH!

>> John: "GIDEON'S ARMY."

WE'VE ALL SEEN IN DETECTIVE

SHOWS THROUGHOUT OUR CHILDHOOD

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN

ATTORNEY.

>> RIGHT.

>> John: AND, OF COURSE,

THAT'S ONLY ABOUT 50 YEARS OLD,

THAT RIGHT.

>> IT'S EXACTLY 50 YEARS OLD.

>> John: SO GIDEON'S ARMY IS

BASED ON THE SUPREME COURT CASE.

>> "GIDEON V. WAYNE WRIGHT" IS

THE SUPREME COURT CASE THAT

ESTABLISHED YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO

AN ATTORNEY IN A CRIMINAL CASE.

BEFORE THAT YOU DIDN'T HAVE THAT

RIGHT, WHICH MOST PEOPLE DON'T

KNOW.

>> John: AND AT THAT POINT YOU

WERE (BLEEP) OUT OF LUCK.

(LAUGHTER)

>> THAT'S RIGHT!

>> John: IN A JUDICIAL SENSE

YOU WERE (BLEEP) OUT OF LUCK.

>> THEY DIDN'T CALL IT THAT BUT

--

>> John: BUT THEY DEFINITELY

IMPLIED IT.

SO THIS DOCUMENTARY SHOWS SOME

OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDERS WORKING

IN THE SOUTH ON ABSOLUTELY THE

SHARP END OF JUSTICE AND IT IS

EASY NOT TO CARE ABOUT THIS.

IT'S EASY NOT TO CARE ABOUT

DEFENDERS AND DEFENDANTS.

THEY'RE NOT POLITICALLY SEUFRP

THET NICK GENERAL, LAWYERS AND

DEFENDANTS.

BUT THIS AFFECTS ALL OF US IF WE

COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE LAW.

>> YEAH.

I'M A LAWYER AND I STARTED

MAKING THIS DOCUMENTARY BUT I

WAS JUST BLOWN AWAY.

LIKE WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS

TERRIBLE JOB?

YOU DON'T MAKE A LOT OF MONEY,

YOU DEFEND PEOPLE WHO HAVE

GOTTEN ACCUSED OF TERRIBLE

THINGS BUT WHEN YOU SEE LAWYERS

LIKE TRAVIS AND YOU SEE -- YOU

KNOW, THEY'RE FIGHTING FOR THE

CONSTITUTION.

THEY ACTUALLY READ IT AND THEY

--

(LAUGHTER).

>> John: RIGHT.

TRAVIS IS A REMARKABLE MAN.

HE PUTS HIS ACQUITTALS UP ON THE

WALL OF HIS OFFICE.

>> HE DOES.

>> John: AND THE NAMES OF THE

DEFENDANTS WHOSE CASE HE IS

LOSES HE TATTOOS ON TO HIS BACK.

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

>> HE DOES.

>> John: AND YOU WORRY AS YOU

WATCH THIS THE WEIGHT OF THOSE

NAMES.

>> WELL, THEY'RE LIGHT TATTOOS.

(LAUGHTER).

>> John: BLESS YOU FOR

MANAGING TO BE GLIB ABOUT THAT

BECAUSE IT'S -- IT'S -- HE BROKE

MY HEART AND, YOU KNOW, I

SOMETIMES -- YOUR HEART NEEDS

BREAKING.

>> YOU KNOW, I MEAN, THAT'S --

TRAVIS IS ONE OF THOSE REALLY

SPECIAL PEOPLE THAT I FOUND SO

MANY OF THEM AND THAT'S WHAT WAS

SO SURPRISING.

HE TATTOOS THOSE NAMES BECAUSE,

AS HE SAYS, THOSE PEOPLE WILL BE

WITH HIM FOREVER.

AND, YOU KNOW, I SPENT THREE AND

A HALF YEARS FILMING THE FILM IN

MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, GEORGIA

AND I SAW SO MANY HEARTBREAKING

THINGS AND SO NOW I KNOW EXACTLY

WHAT HE MEANS.

I'M NOT A TATTOO PERSON BUT I

REMEMBER EVERYBODY WHO WAS

CONVICTED AND IT'S REALLY

TERRIBLE.

SO IF YOU'RE GOING TO CONVICT

SOMEBODY LIKE TRAVIS SAYS IN THE

CLIP, WE'VE GOT TO DO IT RIGHT.

THE LEAST WE CAN DO IS BE FAIR

TO PEOPLE.

>> John: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE

NUMBERS ALONE, EVEN OUTSIDE OF

THE EMOTION.

2.3 MILLION.

THAT HAVE'S A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT

OF PEOPLE.

>> WE'RE NUMBER ONE.

(LAUGHTER).

>> John: THAT'S TRUE.

SUCK IT, CHINA, NUMBER ONE.

(LAUGHTER)

NEVER MIND IN WHAT, STILL NUMBER

ONE.

80% OF PEOPLE CHARGED CANNOT

AFFORD LAWYERS.

90% TO 95% PLEAD GUILTY.

>> YEAH.

>> John: THEY DON'T GO TO

TRIAL.

THAT SEEMS TO OBFUSCATE THE

6th AMENDMENT, DOES IT NOT?

>> SO WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THAT,

MOST PEOPLE -- LIKE YOU STARTED

OUT SAYING YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO

AN ATTORNEY.

WE ALSO THINK YOU HAVE A RIGHT

TO TRIAL.

BUT IF 95% OF PEOPLE ARE

PLEADING GUILTY TO SOMETHING,

ONLY 5% OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO

TRIAL AND MOST OF THOSE ARE POOR

PEOPLE.

SO MOST OF THE POOR PEOPLE

GETTING ARRESTED ARE GOING TO

PRISON.

AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK WE CAN DO

BETTER THAN THAT.

>> John: THERE'S ANOTHER

INCREDIBLE MOMENT WHERE ONE OF

THE DEFENDANTS, SHE'S ON THE

PHONE WITH A MOTHER OF SOMEONE

SHE'S REPRESENTING AND SHE'S

TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO THIS WOMAN

$2,000 BAIL.

IF SHE CAN GET THAT BAIL, THEY

CAN GET AN ACQUITTAL AND THE

MOTHER IS EXPLAINING TO HER ON

THE PHONE SHE DOESN'T HAVE THE

MONEY AND YOU SEE SOMETHING

INSIDE HER BREAK.

YOU SEE SOMETHING IN THAT LAWYER

BREAK.

AND IT IS -- SEEING AS THEY'RE

NOT GOING TO BE COMPENSATED,

THAT SEEMS OBVIOUSLY CLEAR, THE

VERY LEAST THEY CAN BE IS

(BLEEP)ING APPRECIATED FOR WHAT

THEY'RE DOING BECAUSE IT'S --

THAT'S RIGHT.

THE LEAST THEY CAN BE IS

(BLEEP)ING APPRECIATED.

>> John: IT'S LITERALLY THE

LEAST YOU CAN DO.

>> I'LL TELL HBO.

>> John: DO YOU HAVE TIME TO

STICK AROUND AND GO TO THE WEB?

IT'S A REMARKABLE DOCUMENTARY.

>> FOR YOU?

YES.

>> John: "GIDEON'S ARMY"

PREMIERS JULY 1 ON HBO AT 9:00

P.M.

FIND A FRIEND WHO HAS HBO OR

STEAL HBO.

(LAUGHTER)

DAWN PORTER, LADIES AND

GENTLEMEN.

(CHEERS AND

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