Three-Sided Stories: Documentaries on Court Cases

As Robert Evans said in his memoir, "There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth." These are documentaries that follow lawsuits, criminal trials, and other controversial court matters where there's never just one way to view the case.

List order is from newest to oldest (by year of release), and titles are sorted alphabetically within each year.

Related lists:
Revolting Truths: Documentaries About Activism
Lock-Up Docs: Prisons and Penitentiaries
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1.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki examines the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon, Robert Durst, the key suspect in a series of unsolved crimes. (279 mins.)
 
2.
3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets (2015 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving November 2012, four boys in a red SUV pull into a gas station... (98 mins.)
Director: Marc Silver
 
3.
Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A small-town murder in New England became one of the highest-profile cases of the twentieth century... (98 mins.)
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
 
4.
David & Me (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When troubled teen Ray Klonsky began writing letters to prison inmate David McCallum, both of their lives changed forever. Hundreds of letters later, Ray graduated from university determined to set his wrongly convicted friend free. (69 mins.)
 
5.
Happy Valley (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A documentary that observes the year after Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child sex abuse charges. (98 mins.)
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
 
6.
91 Bullets in a Minute (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Follow the evidence as these two nationwide world renowned cases come to a close. (90 mins.)
Director: Seyi River
 
7.
A Murder in the Park (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Documentary filmmakers assert that Anthony Porter - a former death-row inmate who was spared the death penalty thanks to the efforts of a college journalism program - was actually guilty, and an innocent man was sent to prison. (91 mins.)
 
8.
Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A look at James 'Whitey' Bulger, one of the most infamous criminals in American history. (107 mins.)
Director: Joe Berlinger
 
9.
Judgment in Hungary (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Hungary was the site of serial murders on ethnic basis. Over the course of one year, the murderers killed... (108 mins.)
Director: Eszter Hajdú
 
10.
Little Hope Was Arson (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
January 2010: In the buckle of the Bible Belt, 10 churches burn to the ground in just over a month igniting... (71 mins.)
Director: Theo Love
 
11.
Patrolman P (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In 1971 the Knapp Commission, entrusted to expose corruption in the New York Police Department, faces a major problem... (91 mins.)
Director: Ido Mizrahy
 
12.
Small Small Thing (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A look at the high profile case of Liberian Olivia Zinnah, who died in 2012 of complications from a rape that occurred when she was just 7 years old. (83 mins.)
Director: Jessica Vale
 
13.
An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
'Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream.' - Justice Learned Hand... (90 mins.)
 
14.
The Central Park Five (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime. (119 mins.)
 
15.
Expendable (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
How a government wilfully withheld vital evidence from a court of law, deceived its public, orchestrated an unprecedented media campaign... (104 mins.)
Director: Kathy Manning
 
16.
Revision (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
(106 mins.)
 
17.
West of Memphis (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An examination of a failure of justice in the case against the West Memphis Three. (147 mins.)
Director: Amy Berg
 
18.
Better This World (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A pair of childhood friends from Texas who set out to prove themselves. (82 mins.)
 
19.
Crime After Crime (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The story of the battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of brutal domestic violence... (95 mins.)
Director: Yoav Potash
 
20.
Give Up Tomorrow (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When a teenager from a political family in the Philippines is accused of a double murder, the country's entire judicial system is put to the test after years of alleged corruption. (95 mins.)
Director: Michael Collins
 
21.
Hot Coffee (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
How the infamous McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit and similar cases were exploited as part of a right wing crusade to weaken civil justice. (88 mins.)
Director: Susan Saladoff
 
22.
Incendiary: The Willingham Case (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In 1991, Cameron Todd Willingham's three daughters died in a Corsicana, Texas house fire. Tried and convicted for their arson murders... (99 mins.)
 
23.
Scenes of a Crime (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Explores a nearly 10-hour interrogation that culminates in a disputed confession, and an intense, high-profile murder trial in New York state... (86 mins.)
 
24.
Frontline (1983 TV Series)
Episode: Death by Fire (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Frontline investigates the case of Todd Willingham a Texas man who was executed in 2004 for the fiery deaths of his three daughters... (60 mins.)
 
25.
Freeing Bernie Baran (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
The heroic battle to free an innocent man. A family waiting 20 years for his return. A small town's dirty little secret. (100 mins.)
 
26.
In the Land of the Free... (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Tells the shocking and unbelievable story of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King, three black... (84 mins.)
Director: Vadim Jean
 
27.
Life with Murder (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Chatham, Ontario, 1998. Eighteen-year-old Jennifer Jenkins is brutally shot to death by multiple rifle rounds in her family home... (95 mins.)
Director: John Kastner
 
28.
Cleanflix (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
When a small Utah-based edited movie company is caught sanitizing Hollywood's copyrighted material, the film industry strikes back with a devastating blow. (92 mins.)
 
29.
Cropsey (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Realizing the urban legend of their youth has actually come true; two filmmakers delve into the mystery surrounding five missing children and the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearances. (84 mins.)
 
30.
If I Die Tonight (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
"No Justice!" "No Peace!" This rising chant from the streets escalated in answer to the seemingly endless... (94 mins.)
Director: Seyi
 
31.
The Last Word (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
This documentary takes the "Innocent Man on Texas Death Row" tale to a dark corner feared by all - -... (90 mins.)
 
32.
Presumed Guilty (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Two young Mexican attorneys attempt to exonerate a wrongly convicted man by making a documentary. In the process, they expose the contradictions of a judicial system that presumes suspects guilty until proven innocent. (87 mins.)
 
33.
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary filmmaker Roman Polanski's sudden flight from the United States. (99 mins.)
Director: Marina Zenovich
 
34.
Tulia, Texas (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A look at the aftermath and investigation behind the massive 1999 Tulia, Texas drug bust, which resulted in the arrest of 46 people, 39 of whom were African American.
 
35.
Witch Hunt (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of several families who have their lives destroyed when their hometown is whipped into a frenzy by allegations of child molestation. (91 mins.)
 
36.
One Minute to Nine (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
(83 mins.)
Director: Tommy Davis
 
37.
Strange Culture (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A documentary in which actors interpret the legally touchy subject of artist Steve Kurtz, who is being held as a suspected terrorist because of his work. (75 mins.)
 
38.
Trained in the Ways of Men (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Leaving no stone unturned, Director Shelly Prevost scrupulously examines the murder trial of Gwn Araujo and provides numerous interviews with Gwen Araujo's mother Sylvia and the attorneys involved in the case. (98 mins.)
 
39.
The Road to Guantanamo (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Part drama, part documentary, The Road to Guantánamo focuses on the Tipton Three, a trio of British Muslims who were held in Guantanamo Bay for two years until they were released without charge. (95 mins.)
 
40.
State vs. Reed (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
The 1996 Bastrop, TX murder of Stacey Stites is revisited with new evidence that show death row inmate Rodney Reed may have been wrongfully convicted. (60 mins.)
 
41.
The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man... (106 mins.)
 
42.
McLibel (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
McLibel is the story of two ordinary people who humiliated McDonald's in the biggest corporate PR disaster in history. (85 mins.)
 
43.
Hungry for Monsters (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In the early 1990s, teenager Nicole Althaus began an unlikely friendship with a teacher at her high school... (67 mins.)
 
44.
The Staircase (2004 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller... (360 mins.)
 
45.
Capturing the Friedmans (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes. (107 mins.)
Director: Andrew Jarecki
 
46.
Bus 174 (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Documentary depicts what happened in Rio de Janeiro on June 12th 2000, when bus 174 was taken by an armed young man... (150 mins.)
 
47.
Hanratty: The Whole Truth (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
On August 22, 1962, Michael Gregsten was murdered, and his lover Valerie Storie raped and shot on the A6 at Deadman's Hill in Bedfordshire... (76 mins.)
Director: Clive Maltby
 
48.
Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida. (111 mins.)
 
49.
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The case of the West Memphis Three, its questionable circumstances and the parties involved are followed up years later. (130 mins.)
 
50.
Reckless Indifference (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Reckless Indifference examines the tragic chain of events that led to the murder of a Los Angeles teenager who was also the son of an LAPD officer... (94 mins.)
Director: William Gazecki
 
51.
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The history of the "Scottsboro Boys," a group of African American men who were victims of a racist miscarriage of justice that became a national controversy. (84 mins.)
 
52.
Stranger with a Camera (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A look at the reaction and aftermath of the murder of a documentary filmmaker in rural Kentucky in 1967.
 
53.
The Jaundiced Eye (1999 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
At the prompting of his ex-wife and her new live-in boyfriend, a gay man is accused by his five-year-old son of child molestation... (89 mins.)
 
54.
Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
This controversial documentary about the stand-off between an unorthodox Christian group - the Branch Davidians... (136 mins.)
Director: William Gazecki
 
55.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence. (150 mins.)
 
56.
Brother's Keeper (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Delbert... (104 mins.)
 
57.
Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Two young men shoot themselves in a churchyard. Ray Belknap dies; James Vance - severely disfigured - survives... (60 mins.)
 
58.
Incident at Oglala (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
This film describes the events surrounding a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge reservation in S. Dakota where two FBI agents were killed. (89 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
 
59.
The Trials of Claus von Bülow (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Guilty or not guilty? You be the judge. Danish-born aristocrat Claus von Bulow made headlines in the mid-'80s... (90 mins.)
Director: Stefan Sargent
 
60.
The Thin Blue Line (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas. (103 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
61.
Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
This film recounts the murder of Vincent Chin, an automotive engineer mistaken as Japanese who was slain... (87 mins.)
 
62.
The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Fred Hampton was the leader of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. This film depicts his... (88 mins.)
Director: Howard Alk
 
63.
Rush to Judgment (1967 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Mark Lane interviews witnesses to the Kennedy assassination and exposes serious flaws in the conclusions made by the Warren Commission. (98 mins.)
 
64.
The People vs. Paul Crump (1962 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Paul Crump, age 22, was caught up in a failed robbery with four other black men and was sentenced to die in the electric chair. Friedkin so believed in Crump's innocence that he made The People vs. Paul Crump in order to save his life. (52 mins.)