Gideon v Wainwright

Gideon v Wainwright

Published on 20 January 2021

About the historical case of gideon v wainwright

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Transcript
00:00
Gideon vs Wainwright
00:03
Clarence Earl Gideon is someone who never made it past eighth grade after he ran away from home. He always had a life of being convicted of a crime and being in and out of jails.
00:09
The case all started when Gideon was charged with breaking and entering into a bar in Panama City, Florida in June 1961.
00:14
Gideon was arrested and had to go to trial in the court.
00:17
During his trial, he asked the judge for a lawyer, since he could not afford one himself.
00:21
However, the judge denied Gideon his right to a lawyer and proceeded with the case, eventually ruling that Gideon was guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
00:28
While Gideon was in prison, he filed for a writ of habeas corpus, which is a request to court that the prisoner was unlawfully placed into prison.
00:34
Gideon did this because he argued that since he was not given an attorney, he did not have a fair trial.
00:39
Even after the Florida Supreme Court had received the writ of habeas corpus from Gideon, Gideon was still charged of crime.
00:45
In this case, there was a writ of certiorari involved and Gideon filed a request himself for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, which they agreed.
00:53
The case was set on January 15, 1963, with no Amicus Curiae briefs. The Supreme court heard the oral arguments in the Gideon Vs Wainwright case.
00:59
Gideon finally had himself a lawyer called Abe Fortas. Abe Fortas would later become a future supreme court justice.
01:05
In the oral arguments, Fortas tried to distance himself from the argument that Gideon only had an 8th grade education level so that he could be considered as a special case.
01:15
Instead, Fortas argued that Gideon should not have been rejected an attorney in the first place and that doing so was against the Constitution.
01:22
The argument of Wainwrights side was that Florida law stated that an attorney may only be appointed if the defendant is in critical need of one in capital cases.
01:30
The court heard the arguments of both sides of the case and finally made a decision, after their conference, 2 months later on March 18, 1963.
01:36
The chief justice at the time was Earl Warren. Finally, the opinion of the court was on the side of Gideon and reversed the decision of the lower courts, which was written by Justice Black. The other judges, Douglas, Clark, and Harlan all wrote concurring opinions and there were no dissenting opinions.
01:47
The court argued that in the 6th amendment, everyone is entitled to a counsel and also a fair Due Process under the 14th amendment. Gideon was relieved from his time in prison and won the case.
01:54
The Gideon vs Wainwright case is a huge addition to the right of Due Process and signifies that anyone, with either felony or misdemeanor, has a right to an attorney.