October 28, 2002 12:00 PM

PBS (check local listings)

Show of the week

When it comes to legal drama in a San Francisco setting, the fictional girls club (see review on page 29) takes a backseat to this first-rate study of real-life public defenders. With its revealing view of case preparation and tense scenes of courtroom give-and-take, the documentary resembles the summer series Crime & Punishment and State v. But Presumed Guilty is more challenging because it asks us to open our minds and even our hearts to the pleas of accused criminals from society’s lower strata, including a murder defendant disavowing a videotaped confession. Whether you’re inclined to convict or acquit, you’ll admire the dedicated advocates who fight passionately and proudly for those unable to afford a legal “dream team.”

Bottom Line: Best defense

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