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Presumed Guilty (dvd)

Two lawyers struggle to free a man who has been wrongly convicted by a judicial system that doesn't care to admit mistakes in this documentary from filmmakers Roberto Hernández and Geoffrey Smith. Antonio Zuniga was a street performer and peddler in Mexico who was arrested on charges of murder and convicted largely on the testimony of one man. However, the man was a close relative of the victim who had no firm evidence against Zuniga, while the accused could produce several witnesses able to place him far from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. Despite this, Zuniga was found guilty, and when lawyers Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete learned about his case, they agreed to help. After it was revealed that the lawyer appointed to represent Zuniga did not have a valid license, authorities grudgingly agreed to a new trial, but with the same judge presiding, who showed little interest in evidence that Zuniga was falsely convicted. Battling an arrogant judge, uncooperative witnesses and a legal system riddled with corruption, Hernández and Negrete find it's easy to prove Zuniga's innocence, but hard to get the powers that be to acknowledge this fact. Presumed Guilty was an official selection at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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