5 Striking Tweets that Honor #GideonAt55

March 18, 2018 marked the 55th anniversary of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case. This seminal Supreme Court decision ruled that the accused have right to counsel in all criminal cases if they cannot afford one, even on the state level. We asked partner organizations and those on social media to share with us how this decision has shaped the state of public defense 55 years later using the hashtag #GideonAt55.

Compiled here are some of the most moving or informative posts shared during this important month. These posts not only remind us to think back to the important day in 1963 when the right to counsel was assured for millions of Americans but to think and act in ways that make Gideon’s promise a reality.

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Honoring #GideonAt55

Today, March 18, 2018, is the 55th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright. The struggle of Clarence Earl Gideon to obtain defense counsel, and his fight to affirm his right to counsel regardless of means, cemented the Sixth Amendment right that if a person cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided. Public defense access has improved since the Gideon decision, but the public defense system struggles from chronic underfunding, inconsistent standards for public defense eligibility and quality depending on the state, and a lack of support for training and resources for public defenders.

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This Is Gideon

If you were arrested and charged with a crime, would you know what to do? If you were brought into a courtroom in handcuffs, told to stand straight, look up at a judge, and listen to a prosecutor dressed in a suit make statements about your character and accusing you of a crime, would you know how to react? What if you had someone next to you, who was familiar with the process and the court actors, telling you it was okay and that s/he was there to support and advocate for you, would that change how you felt? That is the power of Gideon.

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