Gideon v. Wainwright

by: Ashley Lewis


Clarence Earl Gideon dropped out of school and ran away in 8th grade, spent many years in and out of prisons. Gideon was charged with breaking and entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, yet he was in Florida so it was considered a felony. When he got to trial, Gideon appeared in court without an attorney. He asked the judge to appoint counsel for him because he could not afford an attorney. The trial judge denied Gideon’s request because Florida law only permitted appointment of counsel for poor defendants charged with capital offenses.


Gideon represented himself in trial, he tried to argue he was innocence yet the jury found Gideon guilty and sentenced him to five years in prison. Gideon decided to fill out a petition against the Florida Supreme Court, he challenged his conviction and sentence because the judge denied to appoint him a counsel and this violated Gideon's constitutional rights.The supreme court denied his petition. Gideon then filled out a petition to the Supreme Court of the United States, the court agreed to hear the case to decide whether or not the consul guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution applies to the defendants in state court.


1963, the Supreme Court agreed to favor Gideon, he was given another trial with a lawyer and his charges were dropped. This established the right for poor defendants to have a court appointed lawyer. The case strongly impacted future people who have to stand infant of jury and now can with a lawyer instead of alone.