Gideon's Trumpet

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Lauren Dauer
Gideon's Trumpet Essay
American Political Institutions

Gideon's Trumpet is the true story of a man named Clearance Earl Gideon, a semiliterate drifter who is arrested for burglary and petty theft. The book takes it's readers back through one man's moving account that became a constitutional landmark. Gideon's Trumpet was written to recall the history behind the Gideon v. Wainwright court case and how it made such an enormous impact on United States law.

On the night of June 3, 1961, Clearance Gideon broke into a pool room and smashed a cigarette machine and a juke box, taking some money from both and cigarettes. Later that morning a witness reported seeing Gideon break into the pool hall. The police found him a few hours later with a pint of wine and some spare change, he was arrested and charged with breaking and entering.

At his trial Gideon could not afford a lawyer, so he asked the judge to appoint him one, Gideon argued that the Court should appoint him one because the Sixth Amendment says that everyone is entitled to a lawyer. The judge turned down his request, saying that the state did not have to pay a poor person's legal defense unless he was charged with a capital crime or that "special circumstances" existed. Gideon was left to represent himself in court.

Gideon did a horrible job of defending himself in court. He was found guilty of breaking and entering and petty larceny, which was a felony. Gideon was sentenced to five years in Florida State prison mostly due to his prior past record. The while he was in prison, Gideon began to study up on the law and he soon came to believe that his sixth amendment rights had been violated. This led Gideon to file a petition for Habeas Corpus with the supreme court in Florida. His petition stated that he had been imprisoned illegally. After the Supreme Court of Florida rejected his petition, he hand wrote a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United...
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