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.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The 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 Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.