Clarence Earl Gideon Case

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Clarence Earl Gideon was not someone you would expect to be a hero. According to, he left school after the 8th grade and decided to run away from home. “He was mostly a drifter, spending time in and out of prison for nonviolent crimes,” their website reads. When he was 51 years old, he was accused of breaking into a bar in Florida and arrested. He was too poor to afford a lawyer, so when he got to court, he asked the judge to appoint him one, according to his rights under the Sixth Amendment. The judge refused, and he had to represent himself. “He made an opening statement to the jury, cross-examined the prosecution 's witnesses, brought witnesses in his own defense, declined to testify himself, and made arguments emphasizing …show more content…

He then sent a petition to the Florida Supreme Court, claiming that his rights under the Sixth Amendment had been violated. The Florida Supreme Court denied his petition. So, he sent a letter to the United States Supreme Court asking them to hear his case, and they agreed. On January 15, 1963, Clarence Earl Gideon went to court again. The verdict was decided 64 days later, on March 18, 1963. On an unanimous vote, the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon’s favor. He was given another trial and the charges were acquitted. His efforts against this issue led to it being made known that no matter the crime, each and every person must be provided a lawyer if they cannot afford one themselves. “If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in his prison cell with a pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme Court, and if the Court had not taken the trouble to look for merit in that one crude petition ... the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed. But Gideon did write that letter, the Court did look into his case ... and the whole course of American legal history has been changed.” - Attorney General Robert F.

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