Civics Project

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  • Gideon V. Wainwright (1963)
  • Case File
  • Gideon was convicted of a felony in the state of Florida in the year of 1961. Gideon was poor and could not afford a lawyer. Gideon asked for a lawyer but the state of Florida said they could not give him one. Gideon then had to have his trial with no lawyer so he was his own. Gideon lost the case and was sentenced to five years in state prison. While in prison Gideon appealed to the Supreme court saying his right of freedom to counsel was violated in his trial. The supreme court ruled in a unanimous decision that Gideon's right had in fact been violated.
  • Facts of Case
  • Does the right to a counsel guaranteed under the sixth amendment apply to defendants in state courts?
  • Question Before Court
  • Constitution Application
  • Amendment Six, Right to counsel
  • Argument for Petitioner
  • The Constitution gives me the right to counsel but, I am not able to afford my own. So under might right I am supposed to be given one.  
  • Argument for Respondent
  • Gideon we can not provide you a counsel because in the State of Florida we only provide counsel to defendants facing the death penalty and in your case you were not being charged with the death penalty.
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