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Gideons Trumpet

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In the world of the American Justice system, Gideon's name will always stand for the principle that the poor are just as entitled to counsel as those who can afford it. To this day, Gideon's name and the "trumpet" that he blew have rung true to the words "fair trial". He tore down the wall of Betts vs. Brady and the correlation between the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Gideon's triumph over our justice system shows that there are still flaws in our judicial structure and there are mountains still to be conquered.

First, one of the points that Fortas made struck me as ingenious when it was explained in the latter part of the book. Fortas started describing the ruling on Betts vs. Brady to Justice Harlan. "Betts didn't go on the assumption that a man can do as well without an attorney as he can with one, did it? Everyone knows that isn't so." Of course one could in fact argue that Justice Roberts who made the ruling some years back, had made that exact assumption. His logic was that the trial was so simple for Betts, that there would have been little a lawyer could do. But that was not the case because Fortas argued that with all the intricacies of our justice system, how could an individual without proper education in this field succeed? Forta's point was plain and simple; you cannot have a fair trial without counsel. The case of Clarence Darrow proves this point to a tee. When prosecuted for trying to fix a jury, the first thing he realized that he needed was a lawyer. Darrow; one of the country's greatest criminal lawyers at the time realized that he needed a 3rd party to defend him in his case to have the best chance at not being prosecuted. I feel this was one of stronger points in Gideon's case, giving him an edge at another trial.

Another point that I felt was exceptional, was the distinction of counsel made between capital and non-capital cases. The general ruling at this time during our history was that automatic counsel was given to crimes when the death sentence was involved. But since many non-capital charges are generally more difficult to defend against than murder, this rule seemed rather obtuse. This whole area of the justice system was rather grey, because many states already gave aid to those who could not afford it in non-capital cases. These states and the whole general movement of the justice system were going in Gideon's favor. In fact, when Bruce Jacob asked other states to join him to write an amicus brief,



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