Gideon Vs Wainwright
Before 1963 if a person was convicted of a crime in the United States, they could only have a lawyer appointed to them if they had committed a capital offense.
Clarence Earl Gideon was charged for breaking into the Bay Harbor pool house and robbing the place. There was a witness that said he did it, but Gideon claimed innocence. Since his crime was not of a capital offense, he was not allowed a lawyer to be appointed to him, and he could not afford one. So, when he went to trial, he tried to defend himself against a lawyer. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
While in prison, he began to do research, and began taking the steps that changed the court system in the United States.
He wrote a petition to the Supreme Court, and after some correspondence, the Supreme Court decided to hear him out. After the legalities, it was set that if a person were to ask for a lawyer, they were to have one appointed to him/her.
Over 2,000 inmates were retried and released from jail, but Gideon was not one of them. He was offered two lawyers from Miami, but turned them down. Instead, he chose my uncle, Fred Turner.
Fred Turner picked apart the testimonials, and found loopholes in the witnesses. It turned out that the real criminals was a group of teenage boys who had been partying in a town nearby.
Gideon was released. More...
A landmark case. Everyone deserves adequate representation. And there is the key word. ADEDEQUATE. Many times court appointed attorneys are overburdened and have little time to prepare and present an adequate defnese.
Therefore, to rectify the situation, I don't think there should be 'court appointed' defense attorneys, but rather all attorneys ought to have to be a part of a lottery system that would place their names in a hat to be called upon when someone doesn't have funds but needs a court appointed attorney. This would go a long way to ending a court decision set up to make the scales of justice more balanced, but has through time and many methods become unfair.
Actually, Gideon was assigned another lawyer for his retrial, but instead he chose Fred Turner. So, in that particular case, he did get to choose. I understand what you're saying, though. A lot of public trials with public defenders, the lawyers are not the best choices that could have been made.
Excellent post about how we came to grant legal respresentation for those who want it, but can't afford it. I agree that often that representation isn't adequate.
The problem is that attorneys are not paid by the Courts any thing near what they will make on cases they take on themselves. Most attorneys are just people making a living (all joking aside). If you are trying to feed your family or put a kid through college, etc., which case are you going to give the most attention...the one that pays you $250 per hour or the one that pays you in total $250? Even if you force all attorneys to participate in some lottery, this will still be the dilemma faced by the attorneys. I think it isn't like to do much to improve the system. Also, it won't do much good for a person facing murder to be assigned a lawyer whose entire practice is real estate.
I think we need to find a way to ensure adequate representation without expecting the attorney to fit the bill themselves. The system needs to be revamped. Yes, it means more in taxes. Generally, I am against such things, but I do believe everyone deserves a fair trial and generally this means having an attorney that can represent you adequately.
Investigation Level: Warden / Criminal Law Participation: 94 9.4%
Comments: Clarence Earl Gideon was found innocent after the cab driver that picked him up from the Bay Harbor Pool Room and drove him to Panama City said he was carrying no beer actually the quote is:
|Gideon was carrying neither wine, beer nor Coke when he picked him up|
Comments: Just to let you know, if you do not already know, Gideon's Trumpet is available online. [commercial info removed] This is an online view of the full movie. Although it takes forever for me to download it initially, it runs very smooth through the entire movie.
For those who have not watched the movie, you may cry at certain parts. Tears of happiness when he first got the news of a retrial and tears of joy when he won. I took a personal interest in this particular case.
Please watch this if you get a chance. I have a better understanding of the case.