Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) was the subject of December’s Saturday Webinar. guest hosted by Dr. Jason Stevens of Ashland University. The case, which overturned a previous USSC case and forced states to provide legal counsel to defendants in criminal cases. Although a majority of states already required this, those that did not were required to do so, from this point forward. The panelists discussed not only the interesting background of the case, including Betts v. Brady (1942), but also the complex situation of determining the “special circumstances” mentioned in that decision that states had to somehow work through in each case. An interesting point brought up was that some 22 states filed amicus briefs in support of a single federal ruling, essentially asking the court to provide a single standard for them instead of the open-ended (and difficult) question left to them by the Betts decision.
The broader discussion also looked at the Warren court in general, the concept of incorporation, and the original intent behind the ideas in the Bill Rights.
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