THIS DAY AT LAW
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Supreme Court requires states to provide counsel for indigent defendants

On March 18, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright held that the Constitution requires states to provide counsel for indigent criminal defendants. For a unanimous Court, Justice Hugo Black wrote, "any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him." Counsel had been required for indigent federal defendants since 1938.



Read a history of the Right to Counsel from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.



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