Gideon v. Wainwright: The Right to Free Counsel

By Ron Fridell | Go to book overview

SEVEN
AMICUS CURIAE

BOTH BRUCE JACOB AND ABE FORTAS looked for support for their arguments. The lawyers welcomed help from people and organizations in the form of amicus curiae briefs.

Amicus curiae is Latin for [friend of the court.] Individuals or groups who are especially interested in a case may file amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the petitioner or respondent. Justices receive copies to read and may be influenced by the arguments they present. Writers of these briefs may also be called upon to take part in the oral argument.

Jacob looked for help from other state officials. A state attorney general is the principal law officer in a state. Jacob naturally assumed that other state attorneys general would side with him to keep Betts in place for the same reasons he had expressed in his brief. So he mailed a letter to all fortynine state attorneys general warning them that Betts could be overturned in the Gideon case, and asking them to write amicus curiae briefs supporting his side.

Attorneys general in Alabama and North Carolina responded. They both agreed that Gideon had done a good job of defending himself at his trial. They also stated that the average indigent defendant could do as good a job of defending himself as a professional defense attorney. Yes, they agreed, Betts should not be overturned.

-72-

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Gideon v. Wainwright: The Right to Free Counsel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • One - How It All Began 11
  • Two - Gideon Gets a Lawyer 21
  • Three - A Look at the Past 31
  • Four - Betts V. Brady 44
  • Five - Beyond Betts 48
  • Six - The Briefs 56
  • Seven - Amicus Curiae 72
  • Eight - The Oral Argument 79
  • Nine - The Ruling 91
  • Ten - Reactions 103
  • Eleven - Gideon Today 109
  • Twelve - Gideon's Fate 116
  • Notes 125
  • Further Information 134
  • Bibliography 137
  • Index 139
  • About the Author 144
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