Imagine you’re charged with a crime. Now you must choose between pleading guilty and receiving a shorter sentence–or going to trial and risking decades behind bars.
“The Vanishing Trial” focuses on four individuals who were forced to make that excruciating choice. Each was threatened with a “trial penalty,” the term used to describe the substantially longer prison sentence a person receives if they exercise their constitutional right to trial instead of pleading guilty. We see how the trial penalty has led to the shocking disappearance of one of the most fundamental individual rights and the explosion in America’s prison population.
Throughout the film, we hear the perspectives of national experts, including former federal judges and prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, constitutional law experts, and criminal justice reform advocates.
“The Vanishing Trial” was produced by FAMM producer/director Wynette Yao and cinematographer/editor Travis Edwards. Yao is an Emmy-nominated producer/director who has worked for National Geographic, Discovery, and other major networks. Edwards is an award-winning cinematographer/editor who has worked on a wide range of documentaries and features.
“‘The Vanishing Trial’ exposes the dirty little secret of the criminal justice system that prosecutors don’t want you to know about: the trial penalty. As a former prosecutor, I know that the trial penalty real and that it poses a grave threat to our constitutional right to trial. ‘The Vanishing Trial’ should educate – and frighten – Americans, and spark a movement to reclaim one of our most fundamental rights.” ~Former United States Attorney Brett Tolman
Want to see the film?
FAMM and NACDL will host a number of digital screenings throughout 2020.