The Hughes Court (1930–41)

Criminal Justice

CourtSpeak: Johnson v. Zerbst Right to Counsel Case (1938)

Justice Hugo Black (majority): “The Sixth Amendment stands as a constant admonition that if the constitutional safeguards it provides be lost, justice will not still be done. It embodies a realistic recognition of the obvious truth that the average defendant does not have the professional legal skill to protect himself when brought before a tribunal with power to take his life or liberty, wherein the prosecution is presented by experienced and learned counsel. That which is simple, orderly, and necessary to the lawyer—to the untrained layman—may appear intricate, complex, and mysterious.”


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