'Gideon v. Wainwright', Fifty Years Later | The Nation In its historic decision, the Supreme Court ruled that poor people have a right to a lawyer. But today, our system of indigent defense is shameful. Stephen B. Bright and Sia M. Sanneh Read more: 'Gideon v. Wainwright', Fifty Years Later | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/173458/gideon-v-wainwright-fifty-years-later#ixzz2ZKHo8oCv Follow us: @Steve Fischer on Twitter | TheNationMagazine on Facebook
In 1961 Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking and entering into a Panama City, Florida, pool hall and stealing money from the hall's vending machines. At trial, Gideon, who could not afford a lawyer himself, requested an attorney be appointed to represent him, but his request was denied. He later handwrote a postcard, appealing to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard his case and agreed in 1963 that the Constitution requires states to provide counsel to indigent defendants.