Gideon v. Wainwright is a 1963 Supreme Court case that established the right of all criminal defendants to an attorney, even if they cannot afford one. It is considered to be a landmark case in establishing the rights of the accused. It is one of the fifteen required Supreme Court cases on the AP United States Government and Politics exam.
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Facts of the Case
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Gideon had a right to an attorney under the Sixth Amendment, guaranteeing all criminal defendants the right to an attorney. This decision is an example of selective incorporation, in which the Supreme Court incorporates parts of the Bill of Rights, which initially only applied to the federal government, to also apply to the states.
While in prison, Gideon did some research in the prison library and became convinced that he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. He petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari and the Court agreed to hear his appeal.
Gideon's case was re-tried in a Florida court, where he was found Not Guilty with the help of a court-appointed attorney.
For a deeper look into Gideon v. Wainwright, take a look at the YouTube video and study guide that I created with my friends at Marco Learning!
I am a history teacher who creates YouTube videos and instructional materials. I use this blog to publish lecture notes, book reviews, and personal reflections inspired by history, politics, and literature.