Board Resolution ~ 11/19/2011

Anticipating of the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Anticipation of the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright 

Las Vegas, Nevada
November 19, 2011

WHEREAS March of 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright which established a Sixth Amendment right to counsel in all criminal prosecutions;

WHEREAS the right to counsel is fundamental and essential to a fair trial and therefor the absence of counsel calls into question the validity of a judgment against a defendant;

WHEREAS true justice in our adversarial system can only be achieved through the assistance of competent defense counsel;

WHEREAS the right to counsel is viewed by National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) as inextricably woven into the fabric of our justice system and is a part of our national identity;

WHEREAS, despite progress over the last 50 years, the right to counsel in all criminal prosecutions announced in Gideon is far too often ignored;

WHEREAS the lack of adequate financing for public defense increases pretrial detention, increases the length of sentences, increase the pressure on defendants to plead guilty, inevitably leads to wrongful convictions and results in a loss of confidence in our criminal justice system; 

WHEREAS the NACDL continues to be committed to advancing indigent defense systems that ensure quality representation for all accused individuals;

WHEREAS the year leading up to Gideon’s 50th Anniversary should be a time to reflect both on the fundamental rights guaranteed to someone accused of a crime and on the realities of our current criminal justice system;

IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that NACDL, in anticipation of the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, reaffirms its commitment to seeing the noble ideal of Gideon put into practice.

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL commits to a year-long commemoration of Gideon v. Wainwright, highlighting our resolve to fulfill its promise, honoring those who represent the poor, and educating the public about the importance of the right to appointed counsel.  This celebration shall commence on January 8, 2012, the 50th Anniversary on which Clarence Earl Gideon filed his pro se petition in the United States and shall continue until March 19, 2013, the 50th Anniversary of the date on which the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision.   NACDL shall mark this celebration through a series of events calculated to underscore the importance of the constitutional right to counsel.  All committees, task forces and policy departments shall endeavor to incorporate this historic milestone into all activities during this historic period of celebration.

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