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Right to an Attorney 50 Years Later

Posted by Joseph Tully | May 01, 2013

The fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainright has brought much needed attention to the now half-century old case granting indigent defendants charged with a felony the right to an attorney. In a recent NY Times editorial, The Right to Counsel: Badly Battered at 50, Lincoln Caplan explores whether States are meeting this constitutional commitment. Noting that public defenders in Miami County carry caseloads of 500 felony cases a year, one begs to question whether we have forgotten our constitutional commitment.

A recent Sundance Film Selection documentary film, Gideon's Army by Dawn Porter, portrays the struggle and the fight three public defenders face every day in the South trying to keep the promise of Gideon alive. What this article and film both stress with a graceful sorrow is that it is not just the funding and the staggering caseloads which keep us from this promise, it is a culture which has lost its gumption for a better and more just system. We have forgotten our own promise.

About the Author

Joseph Tully

Founding Partner, Criminal Law Specialist Our founding attorney, Joseph Tully, is sought out for his expert legal advice throughout California. With over 20 years of experience as a criminal lawyer, in 1000+ felony and other cases, Tully served as felony trial counsel as a public defender before...