Gideon V. Wainwright

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Since the Supreme Court was established in 1789, it has ruled on some of the biggest issues in the United States. Most of the rulings by the Supreme Court effect Americans everyday. Earl Warren was the 14th chief justice of the Supreme Court and saw some of the most important cases in the history of the United States and many are still in effect today. The Warren court heavily believed in improving the civil liberties of the people. His ruling on Gideon v. Wainwright is no different.

In 1963, the monumental case of Gideon v. Wainwright was taken to the Supreme Court. This case involved the 6th amendment of the constitution. The case began as a simple accusation of Gideon of a burglary in Panama City, Florida. After being accused, Mr. Gideon was taken to court where he was unable to afford a counsel. In his first case, appearing as his own counsel, Mr. Gideon was found guilty and sentenced to five years in the state penitentiary. At the time, the judge in Florida believed that only persons charged with a capitol offence had the right to a counsel rather than all persons. From his cell, Mr. Gideon wrote to the United States Supreme Court and appealed his suit against the Florida Department of Corrections.

In March of 1963, Justice Hugo Black delivered the opinion and concluded that Mr. Gideon was wrongly treated under the 6th amendment. As a result of this over 2000 convicts were freed although Mr. Gideon himself was not freed, rather given a retrial. In his retrial Mr. Gideon was acquitted of all charges.

This case has a lasting impact on the judicial system of the United States. This case overturned Betts v. Brady, which said that the states had the right to decide if a defendant had the right to counsel. This case also created the large public defender system we have today and the need for public defenders. As one of the most important Supreme Court cases in our nations history, the result of this case is seen everyday. This gives those who are...
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