Law in Popular Culture

The Producers of 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Film Brooklyn Public Defenders at Work

A new documentary special by the producers of Dog the Bounty Hunter offers a behind-the-scenes look at the public defenders working for Brooklyn’s Legal Aid Society.

The special, Criminal Defense: And Justice for All, was scheduled to air in two half-hour episodes beginning Tuesday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on the National Geographic Channel. Filmed over a span of three weeks, the shows offer a day-in-the-life look at several lawyers as they defend their clients.

The show’s executive producer, David Houts of Hybrid Films, says most television programs focusing on criminal justice are based on the police or prosecution point of view. “The idea of having access to the work of public defenders is something that has almost never been shown before to the public,” he tells the ABA Journal in an interview.

Law-and-order policies get lots of public debate, he points out. Now viewers will get “an opportunity to see how the policies that are talked about in the abstract and in the public square affect individual people’s lives.”

The two episodes were filmed as a pilot and have the potential to become a series.

One video clip from the program follows a lawyer from the PD’s office, Adam Heyman, as he investigates a police claim that officers saw his client put a gun in a bag while on a second-floor fire escape. Heyman hoists himself onto a hanging ladder and climbs onto the fire escape to demonstrate that police on the ground could not have seen the suspect do anything.

Co-executive producers Jayson Haedrich and Daniel Holton-Roth developed the idea for the documentary after meeting Heyman socially. Haedrich tells the ABA Journal he met lots of “talented charismatic attorneys” who would be interesting on film. Those who made the cut, however, happened to have interesting cases during the three-week filming period.

“These stories are very much kind of slivers of a complicated story of what it is to be a public defender,” Haedrich says. “The premise isn’t to tell a definite story in any individual episode. … These are just kind of moments in time.”

See a video preview, Checking the Evidence, here:

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