Inside Track: Gideon v. Wainwright: Reflecting on Its Significance:

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  • Gideon v. Wainwright: Reflecting on Its Significance

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    April 3, 2013 – In this video commemorating the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the American Bar Association Litigation Section and distinguished panelists discuss the importance of this landmark decision that recognized a constitutional right to the appointment of counsel for indigent criminal defendants charged with felonies. They also acknowledge that the criminal justice system today is underfunded and overburdened, falling short of Gideon’s promise.

    “Fifty years ago, a prisoner in a Florida jail received news that his case had changed the world for criminal defendants everywhere,” says Bill Bay, chair of the ABA’s Litigation Section. “Never again would a poor defendant stand in a courtroom facing possible jail time without a lawyer at his side.”

    In this video, meet Clarence Gideon. “Learn about his journey that began with a handwritten letter that he sent from his jail cell to the U.S. Supreme Court,” says Bay. The 86-minute video was presented by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation on Jan. 18, 2013, at the ABA Winter Leadership Conference in Florida.

    Speakers include:

    • Prof. Bruce Jacobs, dean emeritus and professor of Criminal Law at Stetson Law School;

    • Anthony Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Gideon’s Trumpet;

    • Hon. Carlos Martinez of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Miami-Dade County;

    • Anthony Graves, an exonerated death row prisoner from Texas; and

    • Joanne A. Epps, dean of Temple Beasley School of Law, moderates the program.


    • Read Wisconsin State Public Defender Kelli Thompson’s article, “The Promise of Gideon,” in the March Wisconsin Lawyer magazine.