Gideon v. Wainwright
In Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 344 (1963), the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right of an indigent criminal defendant to have counsel appointed and paid for him:
- "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 .... 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."
In 1964, Anthony Lewis wrote the Edgar Award-winning Gideon's Trumpet; in 1980, Robert E. Collins directed an Emmy-nominated based on the book.