Celebrating The Promise of Gideon

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The Promise

Fifty years ago an indigent prisoner in a Florida jail received the news that would change his life and the lives of thousands of men and women in the criminal justice system. No longer would he or any other criminal defendant face a possible jail sentence without the help of an effective lawyer at his side. In 1963 the United States Supreme Court held in Gideon v. Wainwright that everyone charged with a felony offense had the Constitutional right to a lawyer -- a landmark decision that began with a simple handwritten petition from a prisoner named Clarence Gideon. On this page, the ABA Section of Litigation has gathered information and resources on this ground-breaking case.

Please scroll down to view a video documentary, the original petition for the case, case facts, oral arguments and decision, articles and other resources.

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Gideon v. Wainright Case
  • Case Facts

  • Oral Argument & Decision

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