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United States Supreme Court cases are argued and decided on Constitutional grounds All arguments and decisions are based on interpretations of the original Constitution and more often on Constitutional amendments GIDEON v WAINWRIGHT In June 1961 Clarence Gideon was arrested and charged with breaking and entering in Bay Harbor He was tried in a Florida Circuit Court in August 1961 Gideon stated in Court that he was unable to afford a lawyer and asked the Judge to appoint one for him The Judge said he was sorry but he could not do that because the laws of Florida called for appointment of counsel only when a defendant was charged with a capital offense where the death penalty might be imposed When the Florida courts denied his claim he went to the Supreme Court In his prison he submitted a petition handwritten in pencil arguing that Florida had ignored a rule laid down by the Supreme Court that all citizens tried for a felony crime should have aid of counsel Oral arguments were heard on January 151962 and the decision was announced on March 18 1963 However Gideon was wrong The rule applied by the Supreme Court at that time was in fact exactly the opposite The Constitution it had held did not guarantee free counsel to all felony defendants that are unable to retain their own Since1942 when Betts v Brady was decided by a divided Court the problem of defendants federal constitutional right to counsel in a state court has been a continuing source of controversy and litigation in both state and federal courts Since Gideon was proceeding without funds it gave the Justice a chance to think about the constitution He appointed a counsel to represent him and requested both sides to discuss in their briefs and oral arguments Should this Courts holding in Betts v Brady be reconsidered PRECEDENTS The Supreme Court first dealt with the issue in 1932 in
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