Lawyers in criminal court are necessities, not luxuries.” Gideon v. Wainwright.
On March 18, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon, laid the foundation for our nation’s public defense system. The Court made clear that providing counsel to those facing criminal charges was a “fundamental right, essential to a fair trial.”
The Court unanimously extended to state court trials the rule it established for federal court trials nearly 30 years earlier in Johnson v. Zerbst: The Sixth and 14th Amendments guarantee indigent defendants the right to have an attorney appointed, at the government’s expense, if they are charged with a serious crime.
In 1972, in Argersinger v. Hamlin, the Court further extend the Gideon rule to defendants charged with a misdemeanor and facing jail time.
For a full copy of the SCOTUS decision, click below.