Gideon’s Trumpet Essay

1. Introduction:

   This paper seeks to summarize chapters 1-8 of the Gideon’s Trumpet and answer related questions.

2. Summary and Answers to Questions

2.1. Read chapters 1-8 of Gideon is Trumpet and write summary.

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      This book reminds us a right everybody takes for granted, the right to legal counsel whatever the circumstances.  A gray area covered by the 6th and 14th amendment of the United States Constitution got resolved in a 1963 Supreme Court decision ‘Gideon vs. Wainwright’. (Lewis, 1989).   This legal story is about Gideon, the man who was the first person as recorded in American history to have written to the Supreme Court in his own handwriting and the decision became a landmark one in US legal history.  Author Lewis showed the beautiful mechanisms of the Court and how in fact the person of a lone man (Gideon) could help make his life as part of landmark decision that would champion the rights of any ordinary American.

      Gideon’ Trumpet is a story of courage of an ordinary who wanted to affect a correct a wrong in society.  Clarence Gideon wanted to correct a mistake in the history of jurisprudence in the United States and he dared allowed himself to be the test case.

      He was arrested sometime in 1961 and subsequently accused with breaking and entering a poolhall in Panama City, Florida with intent to commit larceny. His case was called for trial when Gideon was asked whether he was ready to proceed, and his answer was that he was. When asked about his not being ready, he informed the trial court of his lack of counsel, and when the trial court asked him whether he knew the case was set for trial that day his reply was that he knew the case was set for trial, and he was then asked why he had not secured counsel to be prepared to go to trial. Gideon had said that he requested the Court to appoint counsel to represent him. However, the judge replied declined because under the laws of the State of Florida, the only time the court can appoint counsel to represent a Defendant is when that person is charged with a capital offense. (Lewis, 1989) (Paraphrasing made)

     He was then convicted and was sent to prison to suffer imprisonment.  His spirit uncrushed and unperturbed by the fact that no lawyer might want to handle this case. He had handwritten a letter to the Supreme Court and to the surprise of everybody, he was granted by a court a new trial. This time he was given a counsel in the person of a former officer of FDR administration and who was well known to be a good appellate lawyer.  To cut the story short, Gideon was granted new trail for which he was able to secure acquittal.

      His story might not too big to deserve a publicity because he was once a felon when he was convicted. His belief that the  fourteen amendment of the US constitution really meant to provide the right to counsel which is a fundamental right to due process was firm enough to give him the courage to write the supreme Court. His status as prisoner inside the prison did not quenched his spirit to believe on something that must be corrected.

      Because of the wonderful show of courage the main is being remember by American until this time because of the legacy that he ad shown to the American people , that if there  was no Gideon who has attempted to correct a mistake, many American of the same case like him would have suffered in the their temerity. However, because of the reversal of previous decision that was applied in his case, he was able to show to the America people and to the world. Sometimes it does take all the formality to obtain justice, but somebody her show of courage and the Supreme Court would be open enough to disregard the rules on formality of pleading to give due to what is substantial justice, the right to counsel.

2.2 Write a full explanation/answer to questions: Gideon claimed that the Supreme Court had already ruled that he was entitled to free counsel for his felony trial. Had it? Explain your answer.

      The Supreme Court had ruled that Gideon was entitled to free course for his felony trial by the mere fact that there was acquittal and the mere fact that he was in prison at the time of the appeal. In 1963, there was a Supreme Court decision on ‘Gideon vs. Wainwright’ which would prove that a trial was conducted and that he must have been believed to be given or entitled to free counsel for his felony trial. Such free right to counsel is in fact what makes him popular because he was relying on his

Constitutional right to counsel, which cannot be denied. Being not denied, it must be priceless; hence, in Gideon’s incapacity to hire one, the Supreme Court must have allowed him to have a free counsel.  Even under present jurisprudence, the right to counsel could be free if the accused cannot afford to hire. It will be the state that will provide.

3. Write a full explanation/answer to questions: What is `stare decisis`? What do its proponents believe with regard to the cases the Supreme Court can consider?

        Stare decisis is a principle in the judicial practice that present cases must be decided in accordance with how previous case was decided when there is a good reason to depart from those principles of laws as settled in precedents .

      The ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon On (n.d.) said that STARE DECISIS  came from  Latin which means “to stand by that which is decided.”  It simply means then that precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts. The ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon On (n.d.) further quoted that an appeal court’s panel is “bound by decisions of prior panels unless an en banc decision, Supreme Court decision, or subsequent legislation undermines those decisions.” United States v. Washington, 872 F.2d 874, 880 (9th Cir. 1989). (Paraphrasing made)

Its proponents believe that one cannot change a precedents ruling if facts of two cases are similar since similar rules must govern similar facts with regard to cases that the Supreme Court can consider. However, if the present  case is a completely different one, the Supreme  Court must allow itself some flexibility because the law is also flexible pursuant to reality that the Constitution is dynamic which means that it is not only to govern the past but also the ever expanding future, hence there is nothing wrong with the court having to reverse its old decision when there is a need  do so because of different facts and surrounding circumstances.

3. Conclusion

     No man is ordinary before the law if his or her life will give a meaning to many. One may be a prisoner but he has his rights. He may be a convicted felon but such conviction can only be tested under a crucible of due process, which includes the right to counsel. Truly Gideon was correct he was correct in his belief that an ordinary crime like what he committed need not be capital one to deserve the right. The chance of being imprison and its reality may only be justified under a full-blown trial where the right to counsel is an indispensable.  Such right cannot just simply be waived or denied; it is just as fundamental in law and in life.

Bibliography:

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) (n.d.) The Champion Magazine {www document} URL http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/championarticles/A0301p61?OpenDocument, Accessed July 18, 2006.
Lewis, A. (1989), Gideon’s Trumpet, Designed by Chris Welch, Vintage Books
The ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon On (n.d.), Stare Decisis, {www document} URL  http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s065.htm, Accessed July 18, 2006.
United States v. Washington, 872 F.2d 874, 880 (9th Cir. 1989)

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