July | | Gideon's Trumpet
You simply have to start with Gideon's Trumpet, published in by Anthony of what it was like to be a lawyer on the losing end of that court. . and a direct connection to the Gideon case in the form of Abe Fortas, one of. Background to Gideon's Trumpet and the intent of this page. In Gideon's Trumpet, Anthony Lewis provides a detailed account of Clarence Earl Gideon's appeal. The story of Clarence Earl Gideon (Henry Fonda) and his fight for the right to have publicly funded legal counsel for the Gideon's Trumpet . End of story?.
Justice Black delivered the opinion of the Court, saying in part: Petitioner was charged in a Florida state court with having broken and entered a poolroom with intent to commit a misdemeanor.
This offense is a felony under Florida law. Appearing in court without funds and without a lawyer, petitioner asked the court to appoint counsel for him, whereupon the following colloquy took place: Gideon, I am sorry, but I cannot appoint Counsel to represent you in this case. Under the laws of the State of Florida, the only time the Court can appoint Counsel to represent a Defendant is when that person is charged with a capital offense. I am sorry, but I will have to deny your request to appoint Counsel to defend you in this case.
Put to trial before a jury, Gideon conducted his defense about as well as could be expected from a layman. Sincewhen Betts v. To give this problem another review here, we granted certiorari.
Since Gideon was proceeding in forma pauperis, we appointed counsel to represent him and requested both sides to discuss in their briefs and oral arguments the following: The facts upon which Betts claimed that he had been unconstitutionally denied the right to have counsel appointed to assist him are strikingly like the facts upon which Gideon here bases his federal constitutional claim.
Betts was indicted for robbery in a Maryland state court. On arraignment, he told the trial judge of his lack of funds to hire a lawyer and asked the court to appoint one for him.
Betts was advised that it was not the practice in that county to appoint counsel for indigent defendants except in murder and rape cases. He was found guilty by the judge, sitting without a jury, and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Like Gideon, Betts sought release by habeas corpus, alleging that he had been denied the right to assistance of counsel in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Betts was denied any relief, and on review this Court affirmed. It was held that a refusal to appoint counsel for an indigent defendant charged with a felony did not necessarily violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which for reasons given the Court deemed to be the only applicable federal constitutional provision. Asserted denial [of due process] is to be tested by an appraisal of the totality of facts in a given case.
That which may, in one setting, constitute a denial of fundamental fairness, shocking to the universal sense of justice, may, in other circumstances, and in the light of other considerations, fall short of such denial.
Treating due process as "a concept less rigid and more fluid than those envisaged in other specific and particular provisions of the Bill of Rights," the Court held that refusal to appoint counsel under the particular facts and circumstances in the Betts case was not so "offensive to the common and fundamental ideas of fairness" as to amount to a denial of due process. Since the facts and circumstances of the two cases are so nearly indistinguishable, we think the Betts v.
Upon full reconsideration we conclude that Betts v. Brady should be overruled. The Sixth Amendment provides, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right. Betts argued that this right is extended to indigent defendants in state courts by the Fourteenth Amendment.
In response the Court stated that, while the Sixth Amendment laid down "no rule for the conduct of the states, the question recurs whether the constraint laid by the amendment upon the national courts expresses a rule so fundamental and essential to a fair trial, and so, to due process of law, that it is made obligatory upon the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.
On the basis of this historical data the Court concluded that "appointment of counsel is not a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial. We think the Court in Betts had ample precedent for acknowledging that those guarantees of the Bill of Rights which are fundamental safeguards of liberty immune from federal abridgment are equally protected against state invasion by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
This same principle was recognized, explained, and applied in Powell v.
In many cases other than Powell and Betts, this Court has looked to the fundamental nature of original Bill of Rights guarantees to decide whether the Fourteenth Amendment makes them obligatory on the States. On the other hand, this Court in Palko v. In so refusing, however, the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Cardozo, was careful to emphasize that "immunities that are valid as against the federal government by force of the specific pledges of particular amendments have been found to be implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, and thus, through the Fourteenth Amendment, become valid as against the states" and that guarantees "in their origin.
We accept Betts v. Ten years before Betts v. Brady, this Court, after full consideration of all the historical data examined in Betts, had unequivocally declared that "the right to the aid of counsel is of this fundamental character.
While the Court at the close of its Powell opinion did by its language, as this Court frequently does, limit its holding to the particular facts and circumstances of that case, its conclusions about the fundamental nature of the right to counsel are unmistakable.
Several years later, inthe Court reemphasized what it had said about the fundamental nature of the right to counsel in this language: We concluded that certain fundamental rights, safeguarded by the first eight amendments against federal action, were also safeguarded against state action by the due process of law clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and among them the fundamental right of the accused to the aid of counsel in a criminal prosecution.
And again in this Court said: The assistance of counsel is one of the safeguards of the Sixth Amendment deemed necessary to insure fundamental human rights of life and liberty. To the same effect, see Avery v. In light of these and many other prior decisions of this Court, it is not surprising that the Betts Court, when faced with the contention that "one charged with crime, who is unable to obtain counsel, must be furnished counsel by the state," conceded that "[e]xpressions in the opinions of this court lend color to the argument.
The fact is that in deciding as it did — that "appointment of counsel is not a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial" — the Court in Betts v.
Brady made an abrupt break with its own well-considered precedents. In returning to these old precedents, sounder we believe than the new, we but restore constitutional principles established to achieve a fair system of justice. Not only these precedents but also reason and reflection require us to recognize that in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.
This seems to us to be an obvious truth. Governments, both state and federal, quite properly spend vast sums of money to establish machinery to try defendants accused of crime. Similarly, there are few defendants charged with crime, few indeed, who fail to hire the best lawyers they can get to prepare and present their defenses. That government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants who have the money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indications of the widespread belief that lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries.
The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.
From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law.
This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him. Justice Sutherland in Powell v. The right to be heard would be, in many cases, of little avail if it did not comprehend the right to be heard by counsel.
Even the intelligent and educated layman has small and sometimes no skill in the science of law.
If charged with crime, he is incapable, generally, of determining for himself whether the indictment is good or bad. He is unfamiliar with the rules of evidence. Left without the aid of counsel he may be put on trial without a proper charge, and convicted upon incompetent evidence, or evidence irrelevant to the issue or otherwise inadmissible. He lacks both the skill and knowledge adequately to prepare his defense, even though he have a perfect one.
Gideon had mailed a copy of his petition, as required by the rules of the Court, to H. The law clerks for the Chief Justice, of which there are 3 only for the Chief Justice, review in forma pauperis petitions. The Chief Justice may then request a response from petitioner on the particular issue. Jacob appeared to assume that Betts was a constitutional principle etched in stone.
Gideon also included a sentence that cut to the heart of the Betts Rule, whether intentionally or not: Conference discussions are conducted in secrecy; however, generalities are known. In the conference, issues of interest are presented in order of seniority. Votes are conducted from the most junior members to the most senior members. In conference, it takes only 4 votes to grant cert.
On June 1,the Court decided that they would hear the case of Gideon v. BradyU. Abe Fortas pictured at left.
Gideons Trumpet by Anthony Lewis
Furthermore, the top lawyers that are appointed do not receive compensation for their services. They simply act out of a sense of duty. For an indigent to receive legal assistance provided by the Court, the indigent must be willing to request assistance from the Court. In the case of Gideon, this was no problem. He readily wrote a letter requesting the provision of an attorney.
As for the decision as to who shall represent the indigent, as in most other matters before the Court, the Court itself decides.
Lewis goes into a great deal of describing Fortas, which I shall not do hear. Fortas worked in the firm of Arnold, Fortas, and Porter of Washington. The shaping of the argument to be presented to the Court is largely a discretionary decision by counsel.
Gideon appeared to understand the procedure and the general tasks he was to undertake. As Fortas reviewed the transcripts, it was clear to him that Gideon had not addressed witnesses and certain legal principles effectively. As Lewis states [w]hen that transcript was read at Arnold, Fortas, and Porter, there was no longer any question about the appropriateness of this case as the vehicle to challenge Betts v.
Plainly Gideon was not mentally defective. The charge against him, and the proof, were not particularly complicated. The judge had tried to be fair; at least there was no overt bias in the courtroom. In short, Gideon had not suffered from any of the special circumstances that would have entitled him to a lawyer under the limited rule of Betts v. And yet it was altogether clear that a lawyer would have helped. The trial had been a rudimentary one, with a prosecution case that was fragmentary at best.
Gideon had not made a single objection or pressed any of the favorable lines of defense. An Arnold, Fortas and Porter associate said later: He did very well for a layman, he acted like a lawyer. But it was a pitiful effort really. He may have committed the crime, but it was never proved by the prosecution. Gideon said I have no illusions about law and courts or the people who are involved in them. I have read the complete history of law ever since the Romans first started writing them down and before of the laws of religions.
I believe that each era finds a improvement in law each year brings something new for the benefit of mankind. Chapter 6 Chapter 6 provides an excellent review of methods of judicial, particularly those employed by Justices Black constitutional absolutism and Frankfurter judicial self-restraint. Gideon had lodged his complaint as if there was no precedent in the area of right to counsel.
Gideon had made no reference to Betts, but the Court could certainly not ignore the presence of Betts in making its decision.
At the crux of the issue which Lewis raises in this chapter is judicial review. The principle of judicial review has been accepted; however, the method about which method of judicial review should be used is still very much in question. As previously stated, Justice Frankfurter supposedly employed the judicial self-restraintist mode of judicial review.
According to this model, the Court is to defer to the legislature and the states in its decision-making. As an aside, Justice John Marshall Harlan is probably a purer embodiment of this mode of interpretation that Frankfurter.
From this view, Justice Black did not have trouble overturning an act of the legislature that ran afoul of a Constitutional provision. However, as Lewis describes, the differing modes of interpretation employed by Frankfurter and Black are not always logically consistent.
Frankfurter did not show deference in striking down the constitutionality of wiretapping and the provision of public funds to parochial schools. Justice Black did not act to strike down such actions as unconstitutional. As Abe Fortas began formulating his argument for the Court, he realized that for a justice like Frankfurter overturning the precedent of Betts would not be a simple task.
Ferguson in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. For the reasons previously stated, Fortas felt that he would not face similar difficulties in convincing Justice Black to join his argument. Federalism has been an issue of utmost importance for the Court ever since its momentous decisions in McCulloch v.
Justice Black had little of the same resistance. At the crux of the considerations Fortas was making in regard to the views of Justices Black and Frankfurter was the issue of incorporation.
The Gideon Trials - Iowa Law Review - The University of Iowa College of Law
Chapter 7 The primary purpose of Chapter 7 is to provide the reader with greater insight as to who Clarence Earl Gideon actually was. Clarence Earl Gideon probably had no idea what concepts such as incorporation and stare decisis represented. However, Gideon did have a fairly clear idea of the extraordinary importance of his claim. They gave the state courts discretion. They just say no. Gideon had been a model prisoner, and he often helped other prisoners in their legal claims.
Lewis provides an in-depth look at the prejudice Gideon felt that he had received in the Florida justice system. I shall review the complexity of the law that Lewis describes. I presume that everyone reading has recognized the complexity of the law, and the inherent difficulty an intelligent man, much less a layman, would have in defending himself. For the sake of brevity, it suffices to say that the adoption of the Sixth Amendment in the Bill of Rights was, in all probability, not intended to apply to the states.
The Sixth Amendment was intended to protect the individual from unguarded persecution by the federal government. In American case law, the right to counsel presents an interesting example of how constitutional doctrine evolves slowly and methodically case-by-case over time. The first major case Lewis examines is the case of Powell v. Alabama also the Scottsboro Case. In Powell, the Court held that indigents were entitled to counsel in capital cases.
In the Scottsboro case, the Court scolded the lower court for implying that counsel appointed the day of trial was even counsel, as if such a counsel could be expected to act effectively. The second major case Lewis examines is Johnson v. In Zerbst, the Court carried its decision in Powell to its logical conclusion and made the provision of appointed counsel applicable to all federal prosecutions. I will not indulge into the background that Lewis provides. Brady which I will not given the prominent role it has taken both earlier in my discussion and in our class discussions.
Just remember that the Betts Rule was a flexible one that ultimately showed an extreme bias against defendants in practice. Chapter 9 Chapter 10 In most cases, the state possesses an enormous advantage in seeking the prosecution of a person. This was the case for Gideon throughout the trial and appellate process. However, this trend came to an abrupt halt when Gideon was appointed Fortas as his counsel before the Court. Bruce Robert Jacob, an assistant attorney general for Florida, had taken responsibility for the case since Gideon began the appellate process.
Lewis goes into a great amount of detail providing background into Jacob. I do not think that the background is necessary for our purposes. One critical development occurred when Jacob attempted to solicit amicus curiae briefs from other states. Jacob hoped to elicit support from other attorney generals around the United States. Mondale began his own campaign for amicus curiae briefs urging the overturning of Betts.
Ultimately, Mondale gained support from 23 states; Jacob received support from only 2 states, Georgia and North Carolina.