FC: Clarence's Reflections | By: Caitlin Kimball
1: Hello, I am Clarence Earl Gideon. I believe that I was denied due process of law in the Circuit Court of Bay Count, Florida and I went all the way to the United States Supreme Court to ensure that I would be given justice.
2: On June 3, 1961, I was arrested for Breaking and Entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanor. When I went to trial, I asked the court for them to appoint me aid of counsel. My request was denied. I said that "The United States Supreme Court says I am entitled to be represented by counsel." I believe that being denied counsel went against my Fourteenth Amendment rights under the Due Process Clause. I plead not guilty to this crime, but because I only had the basic understanding of law at the time and I had to represent myself, I lost this case and was sentenced to five years in prison. I believe that my case was not just.
3: The Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment states that no state "Shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Because I was denied aid of counsel, I was deprived of these rights. While I was in prison I filed a petition to the Supreme Court. They decided to take my case and they appointed Abe Fortas to represent me. Abe Fortas was a partner in the prestigious Arnold, Fortas, and Porter law firm. He helped me secure a fair trial.
4: The Supreme Court overturned my conviction and held that the right of counsel is fundamental to a fair trial. My case overturned the precedent that has been set by the Supreme Court from past cases. In the past to recieve aid of counsel, special circumstances had to have been met or you would have had to have committed a felony. But under due process, everyone is equal before the law. Meaning that everyone deserves a fair trial and representation by a lawyer.
5: I was personally affected by this ordeal because I learned much about our legal system and that even though I am one man, I can help change important issues.The decision in the case affected not only myself, but many others who were treated unjustly by the legal system. And now everyone is ensured that they will be given a fair trial with aid of counsel.