Gideon Refused to Go Away: Landmark Case Upheld Right to Counsel

By Carter, M Scott | THE JOURNAL RECORD, March 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gideon Refused to Go Away: Landmark Case Upheld Right to Counsel


Carter, M Scott, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Fifty years ago this month, a poor man changed the country.

In 1961 Clarence Earl Gideon, a man who had the misfortune to be poor and in the wrong place at the wrong time, was arrested for burglary in Florida.

Gideon was charged with burglary of a pool hall and entering a pool room with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, which was considered a felony under Florida law.

When Gideon asked the court for an attorney, the court told him no. That act, Oklahoma County Public Defender Bob Ravitz said, set the stage for a monumental U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

"Gideon was a game changer," Ravitz said. "It was a huge decision."

In an essay written for The Journal Record, Ravitz recounted the courtroom exchange between Gideon and the Florida court:

"The court: Mr. Gideon, I am sorry, but I cannot appoint counsel to represent you in this case. Under the laws of the state of Florida, the only time the court can appoint counsel to represent a defendant is when that person is charged with a capital offense. I am sorry, but I will have to deny your request to appoint counsel to defend you in this case."

Gideon's reply was simple and direct: "The United States Supreme Court says I am entitled to be represented by counsel."

"Without counsel," Ravitz said, "Gideon was convicted and sentenced to five years' imprisonment."

But Gideon refused to go away.

While incarcerated, he took advantage of the prison library and, writing in pencil, drafted an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. In that appeal Gideon wrote that he had been denied counsel and his Sixth Amendment rights. The case became known as Gideon v. Wainwright.

The court agreed to review the case and appointed Abe Fortas - who would later serve as a justice on the high court - as Gideon's attorney. On March 18, 1963, the court ruled that Gideon was entitled to counsel. The court ruled that right to counsel was required by the Constitution.

"The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours," the court said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Gideon Refused to Go Away: Landmark Case Upheld Right to Counsel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.