Gideon V Wainwright Case Analysis

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It is well understood in today’s society that every person charged with a crime is entitled to the counsel of an attorney, regardless if the defendant can afford an attorney or not. Prior to the landmark decision of Gideon v Wainwright (1963), indigent defendants charged in state courts were not guaranteed the right to counsel. In 1942, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of counsel is not a “fundamental right,” and, therefore, is not essential to a fair trial in ¬Betts v. Brady (1942). The Betts reasoning, while stating that Betts’ case was fundamentally fair, created a special circumstances rule. If the courts found that a defendant was at a serious disadvantage, possibly because of the defendant’s lack of intelligence, …show more content…
The fact that a person can be arrested for so many different crimes, leads to a criminal justice system that is on the brink of collapse. When accounting for the requirements of the law to assure certain obligations are fulfilled during a criminal trial, cases can persist for months and usually years (“Investigative Reports: New York Justice—Public Defenders”). To have a defender, that makes far less money than his or her peers whom work in the private sector of law, creates a stressed defender who can barely pay their bills and make ends meet. In “Gideon’s Army” we meet Brandy Alexander, a Georgia public defender, who after paying her student loan bills, which she stated were in the six digits, has to scrape $3.00 in change to purchase gasoline for her car so she can make it to work for the next three days. Understandably, if you are working so hard to survive, how diligent can you be at work where people’s lives and liberty are in limbo? This is exemplified by a Mississippi public defender, June Hardwick, who we meet in the film. Hardwick struggled to pay her family’s bills, which ultimately forced her to leave the public defenders’ office to pursue a more lucrative paying position in private law. Hardwick had not given up on indigent defense; she stated she would continue to fight for the poor. It is clear that she has given up on the system that supports the defenders. Some of these public defender …show more content…
The public, as a whole, may not want to invest in indigent counsel, possibly due to the burden on their taxes or the reallocation of other tax driven public services. This stance would, certainly, be an unfair burden to the neediest of our society, and draw a line between rich and poor, but, moreover, divide the whites from the minorities of our nation. As evidenced, none of the defendants observed in the documentary “Investigative Reports: New York Justice—Public Defenders” were white, all were black or

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