Clarence Earl Gideon, a man fortunate enough to have studied up to eighth grade, was charged with breaking and breaching into a Panama City, pool hall and thieving money from the vending machines. On the day Gideon appeared in court he requested that the court assign him a lawyer since he didn’t have one. However, his request was not met. According to State law in Florida, a lawyer may only be appointed to destitute individuals charged with capital crimes. Therefore, he made an opening argument to the jury, questioned the prosecution’s witnesses and presented attesters in his defense. He refused to testify and made disputations portraying his innocence. Regardless of his relentless efforts, Gideon was found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. In an attempt to seek refuge from his conviction he filed a petition in the Florida Supreme Court for writ of habeas corpus. He argued that the court’s failure to appoint an attorney for him was violation of his Constitutional rights.
The Florida Supreme court once again turned down his efforts. This forced him to file a petition with United States Supreme Court. The court agreed to hear his case out and declared Gideon’s conviction as unconstitutional. The court declared that according to the Constitution’s sixth amendment defendants have the rights to counsel in criminal trials. Without an iota of doubt Gideon’s trial would have had a more positive outcome had he been assigned an attorney. Considering that he had no prior education on law, representing himself would not have borne positive results. With the counsel of an attorney he stood a better chance of getting a lighter sentence for the felony. ( Parker & Evans, 2007)
Parker, C. & Evans, A. (2007). Inside lawyers’ Ethics. England: Camb
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