Essay about History and Development of the Sixth Amendment

1053 Words Feb 15th, 2011 5 Pages
Muthu S. Weerasinghe Constitutional Law LS 305 – 01 Unit 7 Essay

The Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights contains seven clauses that protect the rights of the accused. The amendment assures the accused that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in
…show more content…
Six ears later, Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458 (1938) the Supreme Court established a clause that required the appointment of for those criminal defendants that did not have to means to employ counsel. Justice Black declared that it ''is necessary to insure fundamental human rights of life and liberty [and that] [t]he Sixth Amendment withholds from federal courts, in all criminal proceedings, the power and authority to deprive an accused of his life or liberty unless he has or waives the assistance of counsel.'' ("Assistance of counsel," 2004) The court established through this that if the defendant waives the right to counsel it must be through an intelligent and informed choice and the waiver of this right needed to be determined prior to the proceedings. Then in 1942, Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455 (1942) established that a majority of states did not require counsel to be appointed in non- capital cases. Betts, who was indicted for robbery requested counsel prior to his arraignment but was denied by the presiding judge, eventually filing a writ with the Supreme Court, where the Court decided that the right to counsel should be taken into consideration depending on the case. ("Assistance of counsel," 2004) This ruling was the standard until Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). Gideon v. Wainwright, unanimously overturned

Related Documents