Gideon's Trumpet

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Unit 7 Seminar Writing Assignment
Gideon v. Wainwright
CJ101-23AU: Introduction to the Criminal Justice System CJ100_23AU Andrea Lambert
Professor: Sheila Stephens

The movie, Gideon’s Trumpet is based on the book by the same name written by Anthony Lewis. It is the true story of Clarence Earl Gideon who, in 1963, was charged in a Florida State Court with robbing a pool hall, a noncapital crime. Clarence Gideon, who had no money for an attorney asked the court to appoint counsel for him. The court denied his request on the grounds that state law requires that counsel only need be provided if the defendant is indigent and being charged with a capital crime. Clarence had no choice but to defend himself; ill prepared and having no knowledge of the law, he was found guilty and sentenced to 5 years in a state prison.

I feel the subject was handled very well. I found it to be an incredibly interested case and it seems to me that both sides being represented by counsel in a court proceeding is such an obvious right to a fair trial that I find it hard to believe it wasn’t until 1963 for the right of council for all defendants to become law.

Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking and entering following the robbery of a pool hall in Panama City in 1961, when he was spotted a few hours after the crime with his pockets bulging with change and carrying a pint of wine. Unable to afford an attorney, Gideon requested that the court appoint legal representation for him, as stated in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. Gideon was denied counsel because Florida’s courts needed only to appoint defendants with attorneys in capital cases. Gideon was forced to defend himself and was subsequently sentenced to 5 years in state prison. While in prison, Gideon spent hours in the library researching law books, he filed a habeas corpus petition (for release from unjust imprisonment) to the Florida Supreme Court, claiming that his conviction was...
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