Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested in 1961 and charged with breaking and entering a pool hall with intent to commit theft, by taking money out of vending machines. What he did at the time was considered a felony. When it came time to have the trial he did not have enough money for a lawyer and asked that one be appointed to defend him. The judge denied the request saying that under Florida state law counsel can be appointed only in a capital offense. Since Gideon didn’t have a lawyer and was not educated to defend himself he lost easily to the prosecution. Gideon was then sentenced to five years in prison. He then filed out a writ of certiorari, which is a petition of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States asking for them to review his case. The Court granted Gideon's request and appointed Abe Fortas to represent him as his lawyer.
FACTS: Gideon, the petitioner, was charged in a Florida State Court for breaking and entering into a poolroom with the intent to commit a misdemeanor. This is a felony under Florida State Law. Due to lack of funds, he asked the court to appoint counsel for him and was denied. The court stated that under Florida state law, counsel could only be appointed to represent a defendant when that person is charged with a capital offense. Gideon unsuccessfully represented himself at trial, which resulted in a verdict of guilty. He was sentenced to five years in state prison. Gideon then filed in the Florida Supreme Court this habeas corpus petition (A judicial mandate ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned unlawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. The petition is brought by a person who objects to his own or another’s detention or imprisonment). He alleged that the courts refusal to appoint counsel for him violated his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. In Federal Court, counsel must be appointed to an indigent defendant unless otherwise waived. The Florida Supreme Court denied relief. The United States Supreme Court (USSC) granted certiorari, which gives them the authority to review the case. The court relies on the decision in Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455. Betts was indicted for robbery in a Maryland State Court. He asked the court to appoint counsel for him and was denied. He was found guilty by the judge, sitting without a jury, and sentenced to eight years in prison. The court in Betts held that the Sixth Amendment was not a fundamental right and therefore was not applicable in State Courts under the Fourteenth Amendment.
There was a big change in 1963 when the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright transformed the way state courts applied the right to counsel to indigent defend...
Gideon v. Wainwright What most people don't know is that in the past those arrested for a crime did not really have "the right to an attorney" unless they had money. This became a right because Clarence Gideon, a prison inmate who did not have the money for a lawyer, took a pencil in his hand and wrote his own petition to the United States Supreme Court. Clarence Gideon, without a lawyer, took his case to the highest court in the country and won important rights for all of us. In 1961, Clarence Gideon was arrested in Florida on a charge of breaking and entering into a pool hall. Gideon was a likely suspect for the police to arrest: he was a 51-year old drifter who had been in and out of jail many times since he ran away from home to be a “hobo” at age 16.
For more than a dozen years, Clarence Earl Gideon lay buried in a nondescript, unmarked grave in Hannibal, Missouri. Most Americans outside of the legal community (and many within it) would neither recognize Gideon's name, nor understand the seismic impact he had on our legal system. Fortunately, Anthony Lewis, the renowned journalist now retired from The New York Times, chronicled Gideon's saga from the filing of his hand-written petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court to the momentous decision of March 18, 1963. Lewis brings to life the story of the man behind the case, the legal machinations of the court appointed lawyer (and others working with him) toiling on Gideon's behalf and the inner-workings of the Supreme Court. By telling the story, Lewis has preserved an important piece of legal and social history and we are all the richer for his doing so.
In Gideon's Trumpet, Anthony Lewis documents steps that Gideon took to ensure he received justice. This began when Gideon first sent a respondence letter to the Supreme Court on Janurary 8th, 1962.
The case of Ford V. Wainwright is a Supreme court case of the United Stated argued in 1986. Alvin Bernard Ford is the plaintiff in this case, In 1974 he was convicted of murder in Florida and sentenced to death. In 1982 Ford began to show signs of a serious mental disorder. The Governor of Florida then appointed a panel of three psychiatrist to determine if Ford was component to understand the nature of the death penalty and the crime he had committed. All three psychiatrist disagreed on his exact diagnosis but agreed that he was sane and knew the nature of the death penalty. Ford’s attorney unsuccessfully sought a hearing in the state court for determination of his competency and then filed a hebeas corpus petition, which is a writ requiring a person to be brought before a judge or court especially for investigation of a restraint of the person’s liberty. The Florida courts denied his petition and signed a death warrant for Ford in 1984. Ford then sued Louie L. Wainwright, the defendant, who at the time of the case was the Secretary of the Florida Division of Correction.
On February 11, 1983 Robert Augustus Harper, Jr., filed Amicus Curiae on the case of Joyce Bernice Hawthorne v. State of Florida, 740 So.2d. 770. This was the third appearance of Hawthorne in the First District Court of Appeal of Florida for First degree murder, second degree murder and now manslaughter.
Gideon’s claims to the Supreme Court, he petitioned the court in the approach of pauper, which excused the plaintiff from paying the standard fees that, is associated with petitioning of the court. Moreover, it provides the accused with an extensive discretion while filing for an affirmation or affidavit for the court. Based on the fact that the court deprived Gideon of the right to an attorney, the court violated the fourteenth amendment. The amendment acknowledges that no state shall deny any individual of property, autonomy or life without due process of the law. In the second trial, the convict was conferred an ACLU lawyer. Gideon declined to the appointment and requested the judge to award him...
Hannon, Michael. "Clarence Darrow - Timeline of His Life and Legal Career." University of Minnesota Law Library, n.d.