Podcast To Know About: Another Not Guilty
I know we all live this, breathe this, spend almost every waking moment thinking about this… and I have heard a few people who somehow manage to focus their entertainment away from the sphere of public defense, but no matter, I think that the Another Not Guilty podcast is entertainment and education all in one. So if even those of you who prefer ballet or backgammon on down-time, call this training, and have a listen.
Objecting to a name that suggests that the system is just, Another Not Guilty takes a look at public defenders in the American “criminal system”, and their stories of earning not gulty verdicts for their wrongly accused clients, their overcharged clients, their clients offered absurd plea deals without context or mitigation. It can be hilarious, heartbreaking, and completely absurd all at once, just like real life public defender-ing.
Because this podcast is done by a public defender (carrying a full caseload to boot), there’s a lot of educational value in here, too. Each episode is an interview with a public defender who just won a jury trial. You’ll hear, in their words, about the case and why and how it led to a not guilty. The case is unpacked in terms of theory and process, voir dire, witness prep, experts, everything that matters. Another Not Guilty is working to nationalize the stories featured but despite jurisdictional issues, there’s much to glean in terms of the “how” public defenders fight for their clients.
It’s entertaining, it’s uplifting, it’s awesome to watch our colleagues shine as they fight for their colleagues, and it’s exciting to imagine a public consciousness raised on Law and Order maybe take a second look at the way our criminal system really works.
My favorite episode (Is That a Burrito In Your Pocket?) tells the story of a client wrongfully accused of sexual assault on a subway. He’s a young man, no record, trying to get home with his Chipotle after working at a religious school (literally), and convicted of these charges, he’s facing a lifetime sex offender registration penalty, on top of fines and potential confinement. But because cops will lie, juries will be fickle, witnesses will perform (or not) in ways that distort reality, and public defenders can risk looking bad by being “too good”, this story typifies some great advocacy- not just because of the facts and the trial skills, but for the delicate way to handle victim-witnesses who can’t identify their perpetrators, cops who lie and look so pathetic you feel bad for them, and a jury who really gets creative in thinking what lengths a defense attorney might go to in order to get a win. It’s great. I loved every minute of it though I was equal parts appalled, proud and terrified!
Whether you come to be entertained or to learn or come for one purpose to come away with both, I love this podcast for the way that it showcases the heroism, hard work and client-centeredness of great public defenders. Vividly, it describes a system that is totally run amok and how the right to counsel makes public defenders the essential advocate against a power play that defaults into bias informed by racism, sexism, and fear and loathing for the poor. This podcast is such an excellent expose for who the good guys are. We are!
There are so many great stories to be told. After a summer hiatus, another Another Not Guilty podcast posted its latest episode on Sunday and I encourage you to head over to your podcast medium of choice, and check it out.