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March 18, 2023

Rounding up some public defender commentary on Gideon's 60th anniversary

I saw a lot of interesting headlines in recent days in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright.  Here is a sampling from various sources:

From Fox News, "Supreme Court's 'Gideon' ruling at 60 and the right to counsel: In their own words"

From the Los Angeles Times, "Criminal defendants’ right to counsel still shortchanged in much of California"

From NPR, "You have the right to a lawyer, but public defenders note a lack of resources, respect"

Oregon Public Broadcasting, "A constitutional crisis in Oregon’s criminal justice system continues, 60 years after landmark US Supreme Court decision"

The Sixth Amendment Center, "The State of the Nation on Gideon’s 60th Anniversary"

From Teen Vogue, "Gideon v. Wainwright Was a Landmark Decision, But Women Invented the Idea of the Public Defender"

From the US Courts, "60 Years Later, Gideon’s Legacy Lives On"

From the US Department of Justice, "Justice Department Commemorates the 60th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright"

March 18, 2023 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


Teen Vogue but no SJ. smh

Posted by: shg | Mar 18, 2023 7:21:34 PM

Did you do a recent Gideon post, sgh?

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 19, 2023 12:37:47 AM

When I was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, I took a class where we read the book "Gideon's Trumpet", and I first learned where the right to free counsel originated. An interesting part of the story is that Gideon filed his own Petition for Certiorari pro se, and it was written in pencil on primary paper, with the blue lines and the dashed line in between the two solid blue lines. Although the Petition did not satisfy the Supreme Court's normal format requirements, the Petition was filed and granted. Future Justice Abe Fortas was appointed to represent Gideon. The Supreme Court's decision to provide free defense counsel to all criminal defendants who could not afford to hire counsel themselves was a unanimous 9 to 0. Since then, many states have struggled to finance and pay for all the free public defenders. In Georgia where I formerly practiced law, one murder defendant sat in jail without counsel for about 2 years, before attorneys were finally appointed to represent him. Defense counsel moved to dismiss the murder charge on the grounds that he had been denied his 6th Amendment right to counsel and his 5th Amendment right to Due Process of Law, because of the 2 year delay, which prevented a timely defense investigation of the case and interviews with possible witnesses.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Mar 19, 2023 10:49:26 AM

Gideon had, as his cellie, a former Palm Beach lawyer and municipal judge named Joseph A. Peel Jr., who was convicted of conspiring to murder a rival judge and his wife. It is believed that Peel stood over Gideon's shoulder as Gideon wrote, telling him what to say. (As I was not personally present, I cannot vouch for the veracity of this tidbit). But you can read all about it here:


Posted by: SG | Mar 19, 2023 7:43:29 PM

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