Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
Clarence Gideon, a man in Florida, was charged with breaking into a pool hall and taking money from vending machines there. In Florida, this was considered a felony. At his hearing, Gideon asked that the court appoint a lawyer to represent him since he could not afford one. The court denied him this, noting a Florida law which allowed counsel only in capital-offense cases. Gideon went to trial and did the best he could, defending himself, but was found guilty and sentenced to five years in jail. He appealed to the Supreme Court, stating his right to counsel under the Fourteenth Amendment had been violated. The Court incorporated the Sixth Amendment's right to counsel and reversed his conviction, allowing him to be retried, this time with the help of counsel. Gideon went back to trial and this time he was found innocent of the charges.
Copyright © 1997 Jonathan Chin & Alan Stern