Few names in public defense are as iconic as that of Clarence Earl Gideon. In 1961, with an 8th grade education and a history of being in and out of jail, Gideon stood trial for burglary of a Florida pool hall. When the court called the case and asked if he was ready for trial Gideon replied "I am not ready, your Honor." When the judge asked why, he explained "I have no counsel."
So was the start of one of the most pivotal cases in the American criminal justice system. A man with an 8th grade education was being forced to stand alone against the State and the trained, skilled lawyer who represented it. Gideon knew he could not adequately defend himself without an equally skilled advocate by his side.
He proved correct, for he would be convicted in that first trial, but just a few months after his monumental Supreme Court victory, Gideon returned to that same Florida courtroom to be retried for the burglary. With a lawyer to assist him, on August 5, 1963, he was found not guilty.
"The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to a fair trial in some countries but it is in ours."
While Gideon's lawyer, future Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, is well known, often less remembered is the attorney who represented the Respondent, the State of Florida. Bruce Jacob was a young Florida Assistant Attorney General. While he argued against the application of the 6th Amendment's right to counsel to the states, when the Florida legislature enacted a law allowing private attorneys to act as unpaid, volunteer public defenders, Jacob signed his name to that list and began a long career in public defense. One that included, in 2013, being honored with NACDL's Champion of Public Defense Award.
Learn about Bruce Jacobs' legacy in: Bruce Jacob: A Leading Voice in Public Defense by Ellen Podgor
Gideon at 50 Reports from NACDL
Reflecting upon the state of public defense 50 years after the Gideon decision, NACDL produced a series of reports designed to prove a national overview of public defense systems across the country.
The Champion Celebrates Gideon
In 2012 NACDL published "Perspectives on Gideon at 50," a compendium of articles on the role Gideon has played and will continue to play in fulfilling the 6th Amendment. Authors include: Jon Rapping, Eric Holder, and Andrea Lyon. In 2012-13, The Champion also celebrated the work done every day by public defenders in its series, Gideon's Champions. Day in and day out these attorney-warriors serve as a shield against unjust accusations and a sword against oppression.
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
NACDL 2024 Annual Pass - All CLE Institute Programs
NACDL's 2024 Annual Pass gives you full access to the recordings of every CLE Institue live training seminar held in 2024! That means every CLE speech, presentation and training - along with all accompanying written materials - is yours for over 50% off! With this exclusive pass, you gain unlimited access to a treasure-trove of recent NACDL Trial Skills training that will help you win more cases!
A Defender's Guide to Federal Evidence - 2nd Edition
This brand-new 2nd Edition 2024 Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The updated 2024 Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The 2nd Edition Guide contains multiple new and updated user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems.
Sexual Assault Trial Skills Training Collection - 40+ Hours of Content!
NACDL's "Sexual Assault Trial Skills Training Collection" is the definitive aggregation of our 4 highest-rated and most current Sex Cases CLE trainings (2019, 2021, 2022 & 2023 ed.) and contains our most comprehensive and up-to-date assembly of sex cases trainings that NACDL has ever put together! Containing 49 separate trial skills trainings, thousands of pages of written materials and over 40+ hours of practical and pragmatic content, this collection guides you through the most intimidating sexual assault criminal trial topics.