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CourtSpeak: Gideon v. Wainwright Right-to-Counsel Case (1963)

Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Rights Read more from
Chapter The Warren Court (1953–69)

Justice Hugo Black (majority): “That government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants who have the money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indications of the widespread belief that lawyers in criminal cases are necessities, not luxuries. The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours. From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble idea cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”

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