On June 3, 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon was accused of a theft. In that same year, he was put on trial, denied counsel, and forced to defend himself. As a poor man, Gideon could not afford to appoint his own counsel, and when he asked the court to appoint him counsel they denied him because at the time, courts only appointed counsel when individuals were on trial for capital crimes. Gideon lost his trail and was sentenced to five years in prison. While in prison, Gideon sent a petition to the United States Supreme Court. At this time, it was well established that the Fourteenth Amendment stood, however the courts had mixed decisions on “due process.” In the ruling of Betts v. Brady, the Supreme Court “rejected the contention that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provided a flat guarantee if counsel in state criminal trials...
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...iginal hand-written petition to the Court (p. 4), Gideon’s letter to his attorney telling the story of his life (p. 47-58), Gideon’s life as described in chapter seven (p. 100-106). It is an interesting read on the appellate process and is very much educational and legalistic.
This is a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, meaning it does not expel dry facts it keeps readers turning the page and involved in the process. It goes into depth about Gideon’s trials, his crimes, and all things surrounding his process. This case was a perfect central story to explain the appellate process, because of these reasons the work has tremendous value not only to those interested in the appellate process or law, but for American’s wanting to understand the Supreme Court. For this reason, it can and should be read by all interested in these processes and I would recommend it.
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