Gideon’s Trumpet is a movie that revolves around Earl’s arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for having broken into a Bay Harbor. The case, Gideon v. Wainwright, revolves around the right to legal counsel, which Gideon believed that the Constitution assured him. In this case, Gideon challenged the national laws as well as the criminal trial standards, and in the end helped establish a more sensible criminal system. Gideon is seen as a very stubborn uneducated man from Florida. Having been sentenced to five years for a crime he never committed, he wrote to the Supreme Court, noting that he had been denied legal counsel. In the movie, Gideon continues with his mechanic works while still reading law books and journals in the prison library. This gave him some knowledge and insights about the workings of the Supreme Court, prompting him to appeal. After four attempts the Supreme Court decided to hear the matter and allowed him legal representation.
During the case, Gideon requests that an attorney be signed to him of which Abe Fortas takes up his case. Fortas is tasked to argue against the 21 years old Betts v. Brady decision that the State is only obligated to appoint counsel in capital cases and in exceptional circumstances. In his case, Fortas makes the argument that no man has the intelligence to conduct his own defense sufficiently. Certainly, Gideon had no finances and as well he was a man of average intelligence. In an argument, George puts forward a number of political questions and held the view that it was the State’s right to decide when and to whom a defense counsel ought to be provided. Yet, in spite of Gideon’s best efforts as well as those of the state court, he was not capable of effectively presenting his own defense. Eventually, the Supreme Court voted to overrule the conviction.
Although Gideon had served two years in jail, he was not happy to have had an impact on the U.S. Supreme Court. He stubbornly believes that the Court is playing tactics to have him tried again, thus in double jeopardy. This case clearly highlights that the number of issues available for petitioning the Supreme Court are limited to concerning a constitutional interpretation. As well, the case conveys clarity that federal laws supersede state laws in regards to the procedures for appealing to the Supreme Court. Another point is the provisions in the law in regards to special circumstances that a legal counsel may be provided, that is; to illiterate persons, ignorant, children, mentally ill, as well to capital offenders. As a standard rule, a petition to the Supreme Court must be brought up by the person seeking legal redress, having been hurt by the actions of another.
I am of the view that, even though Gideon was retried and found not guilty, the actual course was in no way easy. The lack of a qualified legal counsel to represent him also showed how the justice system could be complicated. As well, Gideon’s stubbornness and naivety after acquittal shows that his self-education in the law remained inappropriate even after his petition was determined by the highest court in the land. Therefore, it is with no doubt that defendants’ not only require counsel, but rather effective representation. However, the search for effective representation is negated by the lack of finances and resources. Lastly, I do feel that it is worth seeking justice where it has been denied despite the effort.