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Advocates Fight for the Indigent in Tennessee (Gideon’s Champions)
By Bonnie Hoffman
Gideon's Champions columns.
When asked to think about the state of Tennessee, one’s thoughts may quickly gravitate to music. Tennessee is the birthplace of rock and roll, country and blues, and musical icons from the past and present quickly come to mind: Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Patsy Cline, Kenny Chesney, and Elvis Presley. Others may think of the state’s strong ties to the Civil Rights Movement. Tennessee was the home of the Highlander Folk School, a training ground for many of the Movement’s key figures including Rosa Parks and John Lewis, and the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated.
In the criminal defense community, however, thoughts of Tennessee should turn to one of its native sons, Memphis-born Abe Fortas. Fortas represented Clarence Earl Gideon in Gideon v. Wainwright, one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark cases confirming that a lawyer must be provided to a criminal defendant when the defendant cannot afford one.
The Abe Fortas legacy of fighting on behalf of tho
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