The Champion

January/February 2003 , Page 54 

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The Right to a Lawyer

By Judge Jeffrey A. Manning

Occasionally we need to remind ourselves of why we do certain things we do.

You know these words. You’ve heard them. “You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you free of charge.” They come right after: “You have the right to remain silent.” They are the words of the Advice of Rights commonly called “Miranda warnings” mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona.

That specific phrase, about the right to an attorney, embodies the 1963 Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright, that the words of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the assistance of counsel for his defense,” apply to all criminal cases.

Forty-one years ago, Clarence Earl Gideon, a 51-year-old homeless drifter with an eighth grade education, was arrested in Panama City, Florida, accused of breaking into a local poolroom. He asked for an

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