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Attorney to be featured tonight in HBO documentary

‘Gideon’s Army’ airs at 9 p.m.; Williams humbled by attention

POSTED: July 1, 2013 12:05 a.m.

After months of interviews and screenings, the documentary “Gideon’s Army,” starring area attorney Travis Williams, is making its public debut.

The film’s namesake, Gideon, comes from the landmark Supreme Court ruling — Gideon v. Wainwright — that states criminal defendants had the right to an attorney, regardless of whether they could afford one.

The film premiers today at 9 p.m. on HBO, and examines the criminal justice system from the perspective of those attorneys who serve the poorest litigants in staggering numbers with minimal compensation.

Williams, a senior public defender for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s office, said he’s humbled by the attention of the documentary and positive reception he has gotten personally.

“It’s been interesting. It’s been a fun ride. I’m not a travel kind of guy. I don’t like taking time away from work. I don’t like leaving the office. But it’s been an interesting ride to see all these different places and meet these different people,” he said.

The film features appearances of other Hall County notables.

Brett Willis, a fellow senior public defender, narrated a large portion of the film.

Superior Court Judges Bonnie Oliver and Jason Deal also appear behind the gavel in several courtroom scenes, and there’s even a brief cameo by then-campaigning Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Mecum outside the courthouse.

The film, selected as part of HBO’s weekly Summer Documentary Series, has been showered with positive reviews.

It was named a New York Times critic’s pick, and The Village Voice said it was “the most illuminating crime drama since ‘The Wire.’ As for what sort of impact the film might have, Williams isn’t entirely sure, but is glad to exemplify a public defender who loves his work.

“It may turn people on to that there are public defenders out there who care about their job, care about their clients, and are really doing this work not because they have to, but because they want to,” he said.


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