Criminal Justice: Gideon vs. Wainwright, U.S. vs. Bagley, and In re Gault

Devonair Cheeks
February 22, 2014
Intro Criminal Justice

Gideon v. Wainwright
The Court held that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of counsel is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial and, as such, applies the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In overturning Betts, Justice Black stated that “reason and reflection require us to recognize that in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person brought into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, can’t be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” He further wrote that the “noble ideal” of “fair trials before impartial tribunals in which ever defendant stands equal before the law, can’t be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”

U.S. v. Bagley
Respondent, Bagley, was indicted in violation of federal narcotics and firearms statutes. Before trial, respondent filed a discovery motion, requesting whether any governmental witnesses had been compensated, in any way, for their testimony. The government replied that they had not. Two of the government’s witnesses, O’Conner and Mitchell were state law enforcement officers who had been working undercover to assist the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). At trial, Respondent was found guilty of the narcotics charges, but not the firearm charges. Sometime later, he filed requests for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, and found out that O’Conner and Mitchell had been paid for their testimony against him. He moved to have his sentence vacated.

In Re Gault
Appellants' 15-year-old son, Gerald Gault, was taken into custody as the result of a complaint that he had made lewd telephone calls. After hearings before a juvenile court judge, Gerald was ordered committed to the State Industrial School as a juvenile delinquent until he should reach majority. Appellants brought a habeas corpus action in the state courts to challenge

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