Gideon V. Wainwright Case Study

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1. The case at hand is Gideon v. Wainwright 372 U.S. 335 (1962). The plaintiff was Clarence Earl Gideon and the defendant was Louie Lee Wainwright, the Secretary of the Florida Division of Corrections. 2. This case overruled Betts v. Brady and held that the right of an indigent defendant to appointed counsel is a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial. Failure to provide an indigent defendant with an attorney is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, making it unconstitutional. 3. At issue was whether the Sixth Amendment constitutional requirement that indigent defendants be appointed counsel should be made obligatory to all states by the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause. On August 4, 1961, $5 in change and a few bottles of drinks were stolen from the Pool Room, a pool hall/beer place that belonged to Ira Strickland. Henry Cook, a 22-year-old resident who lived nearby,…show more content…
Such an offense was a felony under Florida law. When Gideon appeared before the state Court he told the court that he was indigent and requested the Court appoint him an attorney, asserting that “the United States Supreme Court says I am entitled to be represented by counsel.” The Florida Court said that the issue at hand was a state issue, not federal. They also said if the practice of only appointing counsel under "special circumstances" in non-capital cases sufficed, that thousands of convictions would have to be thrown out if it were changed, and that Florida had followed for 21 years "in good faith" the 1942 Supreme Court ruling in Betts v. Brady. Gideon proceeded to a jury trial, made an opening statement, cross-examined the State’s witnesses, called his own witnesses, declined to testify himself, and made a closing argument. The jury resulted in a guilty verdict and Gideon was sentenced five years in state prison. While serving his

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