Criminal Law

Reframing the Indigent Defense Crisis

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the right to counsel. In Gideon, the Court found that “reason and reflection require us to recognize that in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided.” Despite Gideon’s recognition that lawyers in criminal courts “are necessities, not luxuries,” our failure to provide adequate representation to defendants in our criminal courts has been well documented.