However, there are some bright spots around the country that demonstrate the positive effect of the Gideon verdict. Through research and planning programs, Alabama is taking the lead on this issue. They are introducing public defendant programs and offering incentives for established law firms to take on these pro bono cases. Legal aid is a leading department within the state’s Bar Association and they are focusing more press on its accomplishments. 26 other states are following their lead to better manage this issue. However questions of compensation and commitment continue to block the way for complete representation.
Lawyers must decide that it is worth their time to contribute to this cause. Conclusion Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteed counsel to every defendant, even those who could not afford it. In theory, personal wealth would no longer be a deterrent to receiving competent counsel. Counsel was seen as a fundamental right on the state and federal level, regardless of the crime because without it, life and liberty could in no way be guaranteed. Perhaps Justice Black explained it best as he read the court’s opinion. “The right to be heard would be, in many cases, of little avail if it did not comprehend the right to be heard by counsel.
Even the intelligent and educated layman has small and sometimes no skill in the science of law. If charged with crime, he is incapable, generally, of determining for himself whether the indictment is good or bad. ” (www. lectlaw. com) Gideon was a legal victory for civil liberties. However, its promise has not been kept. Overwrought state legislations have found it difficult, at best to provide the services guaranteed in this case. Quality lawyers will not be swayed from their “careers” to represent those that can’t afford their services. Something must be done to uphold the legal progress made through Gideon’s quest.
For the bottom line is, “lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. ” (Oyez)
Clark, William. “Respond to Gideon’s Trumpet and Turn Commitment into Action. ” The Alabama Lawyer. 2008. Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963: Indigent’s Right to Appointed Counsel. ‘Lectric Law Library. www. lectlaw. com. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963). Landmark Supreme Court Cases. www. landmarkcases. org. Levine, Kate. “If You Cannot Afford a Lawyer. ” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review. Vol. 42, 2007 Oyez: Gideon v. Wainwright. Oyez Supreme Court Media. www. oyez. org. Press, Eyal. “Keeping Gideon’s Promise. The Nation, April 3, 2006.