In a country ruled by law rather than by men, the Supreme Court is the ultimate source of legitimate authority in the nation. It attempts to use this authority with great discretion, and with an eye towards avoiding even the appearance of tyranny. Gideon's Trumpet is the story of the Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, which in 1964 established a constitutional right to court-appointed counsel for all criminal defendants, regardless of their ability to pay. It grew out of a concern for the practical workings of the legal system, out of an attempt to increase fairness in trials, but primarily, it grew out of the work of the appellant Clarence Gideon, who was convicted of larceny in a Florida court, after being denied counsel that he was too poor to employ. Convinced that this was unconstitutional, Gideon pursued his appeals on his own, in handwritten documents that eventually reached the Supreme Court and moved them to overturn his conviction and offer a second trial, this time with state-appointed counsel. The story is told with elegance and simplicity, and will not easily be forgotten.
The story of a convict's defense of his contention that a person on trial should not be denied the assistance of counsel