The Right to Counsel in American Courts

By William M. Beaney | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
RIGHT TO COUNSEL AS INTERPRETED B Y STATE COURTS

OBVIOUS difficulties face one who attempts to analyze any legal doctrine as applied in American state courts. State constitutions, statutes, and customs must be pressed into workable classifications without excessively distorting their individual meanings. The very bulk of the material and the richness of detail make brevity a goal more easily sought than achieved. To treat the state doctrines regarding the right to counsel one by one would prove excessively wearying and would draw out the narrative unduly. At the sacrifice, then, of comparing state with state, I shall try to depict the similarities and the differences in the state doctrines respecting this right under a number of arbitrarily selected headings.

The decisions of the highest state courts in applying state statutes and constitutional provisions, influenced recently to some extent by the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, have supplied the material for this study. Since in Chapter V, "Right to Counsel, Due Process, and the Federal Courts," an attempt will be made to analyze the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in reviewing certain state decisions, discussion of those state cases has been omitted here. It is hoped that this examination of state-court interpretations of state laws will give a reasonably accurate picture of the right to counsel as enjoyed in the states today and will furnish an adequate background for the treatment of the cases under the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in the chapter to follow.


STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

All state constitutions save that of Virginia contain a provision of long standing respecting counsel for the accused in

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