"The Vanishing Trial," a documentary presented by FAMM and NACDL

Produced by Wynette Yao and Travis Edwards, “The Vanishing Trial” focuses on four individuals who were forced to make that excruciating choice between pleading guilty or going to trial. 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. The documentary reveals 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.

Film poster for The Vanishing TrialThroughout 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.

Learn more about the trial penalty

FAMM's Wynette Yao is an Emmy-nominated producer/director who has worked for National Geographic, Discovery, and other major networks. Travis Edwards is an award-winning cinematographer/editor who has worked on a wide range of documentaries and features.

Watch the trailer  Screenings  Watch on Kanopy

Virtual screening & panel discussion (June 8, 2020)

NACDL hosted a virtual screening and one-hour webinar discussing America’s trial penalty problem and the film "The Vanishing Trial." The panelists included Norman L. Reimer, NACDL Executive Director; Barry C. Scheck, Innocence Project Co-Founder and Special Counsel; and Lisa M. Wayne, NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice President.

Panel Discussion (June 15, 2020)

NACDL and FAMM hosted a virtual panel discussion about “The Vanishing Trial” documentary. The panelists included Sakira Cook, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Brittany K. Barnett, Buried Alive Project; Clark Neily, The Cato Institute; and Norman L. Reimer, NACDL.

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Panel Discussion (June 29, 2020)

New Yorkers United for Justice hosted a virtual panel discussion of the upcoming FAMM and NACDL film "The Vanishing Trial." Panelists included Robert Rose, a formerly incarcerated advocate; Susan Walsh, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Jared Trujillo, The Legal Aid Society; and Khalil Cumberbatch, New Yorkers United for Justice. Featuring Norman Reimer, NACDL; and Molly Gill, FAMM. View the entire discussion below.

Panel Discussion (October 8, 2020)

Fordham Law School hosted a virtual panel discussion of the FAMM and NACDL film “The Vanishing Trial.” Featured panelists included Robert Rose III, Formerly Incarcerated Advocate; Beth Unger, Legal Aid Society; and Susan J. Walsh, NYSACDL. The panel was moderated by Luna Garzon-Montano and Eli Salaman-Abrams, Fordham Law School. 

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NACDL News Release (June 9, 2020)