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In 1963 the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v Wainwright that every criminal defendant has a right to have an attorney The poor are appointed an attorney normally known as a public defender to defend them The poor are given substandard representation in courts due to lack of funds and a broken criminal justice system The criminal justice system has made strides forward The Sixth Amendment right to counsel was generally understood as guaranteeing criminal defendants the right to hire their own counsel if they could afford to do so The Supreme Court has since ruled however that in both federal cases Johnson vs Zerbst 1938 and state cases Gideon vs Wainwright 1963 the government must provide counsel to represent criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire counsel on their own and that the right to counsel is guaranteed regardless of how short the defendants term of imprisonment may be if convicted Argersinger vs Hamlin 1972 Warren Burger The Washington Times December 22 1991 The Supreme Court acknowledges that the constitutionally required counsel must provide effective assistance court decisions have provided only halfhearted enforcement of the requirement of effectiveness The counsel is presumed to be effective once a member of the bar The court has held that neither gross inexperience nor unfamiliarity with criminal practice is enough to support a finding of ineffectiveness The courts refuse to mandate even the most elementary steps in effective case preparation such as interviewing the client or witnesses Instead the courts judge ineffectiveness under the totality of the circumstances in each case In one case Judge Henry Friendly writing for the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a lawyer was not ineffective even though he had slept through a portion of a witnesss cross-examination Judge Friendly simply speculated that the witnesss testimony probably was not very important because if it had been the trial judge would have awakened him Chief Justice Warren Burger
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