At one point Travis tries to "trick" the D.A. at trial. What is their relationship like with the prosecution? They must see each other quite often.
It's like the old cartoon where the sheepdog and the wolf show up at work and greet each other, then go about their business of beating each other up - not that I think prosecutors are wolves. In Georgia the lawyers are assigned to a courtroom, so they know each other very well. In the best of relationships, I'd say it's one of mutual respect. It can get heated, but it should. The stakes are high.
Were you able to film in any courtroom you wanted?
Not all courtrooms are open to the public. And even if they are open, you still need the judge's permission. For Travis's court, I filed a motion and had to argue it in front of the judge. That was one of the good things about being a lawyer. The judge ruled that it was good that people see what happens in the legal system. I had parameters whenever I filmed; I couldn't show the jury. In one case, there was a police informant I wasn't allowed to film.
Did you look for anything in particular in the cases you found?
The biggest thing is finding a case that actually goes through to trial. Less than five percent actually do. We got a little bit of luck in that the families in both cases were willing to talk to us. Too often we just see people as criminals, and not as a part of a family that's going to be deeply disrupted by their conviction.
You've highlighted a major problem in the system, but what can be done to fix it?
It's important to train young lawyers and have programs like Gideon's Promise which teaches them not only to be good at their jobs, but caring and ethical people. Also, our drug sentences are completely out of whack. Louisiana has minimum mandatory laws for having marijuana. How is that making me safe?