PA 260: Criminal Law
March 6, 2012
Gideon v. Wainwright – 372 U.S. 335 (1963)
Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with a felony under Florida State Law. He allegedly broke into a poolroom with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, thus making it a felony. Mr. Gideon was indigent and asked the court to appoint counsel for him. The court stated that because Gideon was not charged with a capital offense, under Florida State Law his request was denied. Mr. Gideon stated, “The United States Supreme Court says I am entitled to be represented by counsel”. Mr. Gideon was brought to trial without counsel and was found guilty by a jury. He was sentenced to five years in state prison. “Mr. Gideon filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on the ground of the trial court’s refusal to appoint counsel. The State Supreme Court denied all relief on the 1942 case of Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455, 62 S.Ct 1252, 886 L.ED 1595. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. It appointed counsel since Gideon was proceeding in forma pauperis. The U.S. Supreme Court requested both sides to discuss their briefs and oral arguments as to the Betts v. Brady case being reconsidered. The court found that both the Betts and Gideon cases were so similar, that if Betts v. Brady were to stand, it would require the denial of Gideon’s claim; therefore, Betts v. Brady was overruled”. “Gideon brought habeas corpus proceedings against the Director of the Division of Corrections. Florida Supreme Court denied all relief and Gideon brought certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Blake, found that the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provided that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused has the right to counsel for his defense appointed by the state if he is indigent. Judgment was reversed and cause remanded to the Florida Supreme Court for...