Betts v. Brady

RESPONDENT: Patrick J. Brady, Warden
LOCATION: Circuit Court for Carroll County

DECIDED BY: Stone Court (1941-1942)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

GRANTED: Feb 16, 1942
ARGUED: Apr 13, 1942 / Apr 14, 1942
DECIDED: Jun 01, 1942

G. Van Velsor Wolf - for the petitioner
Jesse Slingluff Jr. - for the petitioner
Robert E. Clapp, Jr. - for the respondent
William C. Walsh - for the respondent

Facts of the case

Betts was accused in robbery occurred in Maryland. Because lack of money, he could not hire the advocate to his representation before the trial and then requested for such free legal aid. But in accordance to state laws counsel`s appointment was applied only in prosecution in rape and murders crimes. Hence, he was refused in such demand not provided by laws.

The defendant didn`t admit guilt and didn`t give testimonies. The judge convicted him and upheld the imposition of 8-years sentence.

During condemnation, Betts filed a claim for state appellate court arguing that he had the legible right for defender determined by the Fourteen Amendment. This argument was refused and then he appealed for a writ of certiorari to the USA Supreme Court regarding deprivation of his valid right for the defender.

The main issue for resolving was whether it had been the infringement of the defendant`s right. This was the subject of the Fourteen Amendment that implemented the fundamental principles for a fair trial but not implement the obligation to states to provide counsel representative in each case. Its principle also cannot be interpreted that all necessary procedure means require a mandatory defender`s representation by attorney.

The case study underlines the judgment point that the Sixth Amendment also defined the right to the attorney in federal courts, that didn`t extend on this issue.

Accordingly to the case brief to decide such claim the judges also made a research of foreign legislation and conclusions that this issue was left for resolving by each state separately.


Does denying a request for counsel for an indigent defendant violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment which embraces the defendant's right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment?