Gideon’s Trumpet: Book Review
Chapter one opens with the origination of Clarence Gideon’s request for an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The letter he wrote to the Court was full of legal jargon so the Justices knew that he must have read the rules to the court process of appealing the case in question. He knew these rules because he had applied for an appeal to the court once before, in which he did not include a pauper’s affidavit and the court sent him a copy of the rules and a sample of the affidavit he originally needed to file. He wanted the United States Supreme Court to let him free since he was denied his due process right to a court appointed attorney because he was too poor to be able to provide counsel for himself. The Supreme Court had already had a case 20 years before, Betts v. Brady , which states that only in special circumstances does a defendant receive court appointed counsel. The circumstances were as follows; illiteracy, ignorance, youth, or mental illness. He did not qualify under any of those reasons. The chapter ends with the author summarizing the Florida court transcripts from the case The State of Florida v. Clarence Earl Gideon. After the judge announced the case and got the proceedings started, he asked if both sides of were ready to start the trial. The State answered “yes” and Gideon replied “no” then asked for a court appointed attorney. The judge stated that only persons on capital cases may receive this luxury. Gideon was then charged and put in jail after the court made sure the transcript stated everything that Gideon had said and that the court had made him aware of his rights for the situation. Chapter Two:
In this chapter the issue at hand involves the jurisdiction of the federal and state courts. What the Supreme Court can and cannot do. It is explained that the reach is limited to only federal laws. Stating that when a state has decided that a person acted in a way that violates state law and is convicted under state law, the Supreme Court cannot review and overrule these claims. The Supreme Court can only review cases if they involve the questions of federal law. In the Act of 1789 the Congress gave the Supreme Court the right to revise state court decisions on federal laws. The book gives the example of the case Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee. A land dispute about ownership of lands in Virginia in which it depended the title was a part of and old Virginia statute or by the Jay Treaty of 1794 between the US and Britain. The State argued that the Virginia statute held precedence, but the Federal Courts demanded the treaty be upheld. This decision was made in accordance to Article IV of the constitution. That in affect is where Gideon comes into play. Gideon felt that his being denied the right to court appointed counsel was against due process. He was accepted to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. But in time passed while Gideon awaited review, Congress had developed changes in jurisdiction where the Supreme Court minimized the scrutiny of state objections. The statutes were that before the Supreme Court can hear a case, it must go to highest state court first meaning the state Supreme Court. Only if the case is violating a federal law can it bypass the state court. Gideon’s case had all the qualities to be a Supreme Court candidate for review. Gideon’s case was accepted because after his conviction he did not appeal his case and then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He stated a constitutional claim for counsel and the Florida Supreme Court passed on it, sending it all the way to the Supreme Court. The chapter is deciding if the United States Supreme Court had jurisdiction and developing new procedural laws on how to decide if the cases had just cause to be heard at the Supreme Court level. Chapter 3:
In this chapter the author talks about how the Supreme Court works. The chapter discusses the processes the Justices go through when...
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