There are different reasons why people watch movies. For instance, some watch movies for leisure and entertainment; others watch them for educational purposes while others watch movies for inspirational purposes or simply because of the influence from people close to them. Whatever the case, it is essential to note that movies portray messages and themes of life in society. They are meant to provide insights into what the world is like and how people across regions interact with one another. For Gideon’s trumpet movie, there is a reflection of the US Supreme Court practices. Based on this movie, the paper seeks to analyze these practices, as well as, provide thoughts and opinions of the researcher regarding the same. The paper also seeks to determine whether attorneys should be appointed for all indigent defendants giving reasons for either case.
The movie, directed by Antony Lewis, is a story of Clarance Earl Gideon, the main character and the case in a court involving Wainwright and Gideon himself. In the story, Gideon is accused of stealing some beer, wine, coca-cola, cigarettes and change after breaking into a pool room. During the time when the robbery occurred in the pool hall, a man who was standing outside stated that he had seen Gideon leave the location with a wine bottle. Coincidentally, when Gideon was questioned later by a policeman, he had a lot of change in his pockets. This led to his arrest. During the day of Gideon’s trial, the accused did not have a lawyer. His request to the judge to appoint a lawyer for him was rejected as the State’s (Florida) law stipulated that it was only in capital offences and special circumstances where lawyers would be appointed for to represent defendants who did not have their own lawyers. This left Gideon with no other choice rather than to represent himself in court (Lewis, 2011). However, Gideon did not have the capability of proving himself innocent before the jury. The jury, therefore, went on to convict Gideon. As there were four other prior convictions, Gideon was convicted to five years in jail by the judge. Gideon studied law while in jail in order to acquire sufficient knowledge to appeal during his conviction.
Gideon sent out a request for appeal to the US Supreme court after doing a lot of research. The justices reviewed Gideon’s appeal and after doing much deliberation made a decision to hear his case. The defendant was released from prison in order to prepare for the new trial. For this second trial, an ACLU lawyer was appointed to represent him in the court. However, Gideon requested for a lawyer whom he knew, and the lawyer did great work in defending the defendant and it was made obvious that Gideon had not committed the offence. He was, therefore, declared not guilty (Lewis, 2011). Gideon asked for some money and was given and planned to rejoin with his children and go to the pool hall.
The number of subjects who are eligible to petition in the United States Supreme Court is not much. This leads to a question on the Constitution’s interpretation of what constitutes a crime. It is, therefore, on this basis that the trial for Gideon is termed as unfair. This is because the trial did not offer the due process during the submission of Gideon’s petition to the Supreme Court. In addition, it is essential to state that federal law surpasses the law of the state. Thus, the court system must carry out its actions before cases are appealed to the Supreme Court. There are exceptions that exist for these standards and rules. This was the case for Gideon. The case meets the necessary requirements implying that the Supreme Court has the authority and power to make critical decisions on hearing it. This occurs despite the fact that they are not supposed to consider Gideon’s case. The 1925 Judge’s Bill of 1925 provides the justices of the Supreme Court Justices with the freedom to make decisions on which cases they consider for hearing, but with only some exceptions (Vile and Menez, 2010). Furthermore, the justices do not need to give any explanations or reasons for their decisions. The US Supreme Court must only hear cases that have significant impacts that are beyond the initial petitioners. Recently, it has been noted the matter on whether an accused (defendant) has the right to legal counsel has been recently on debates especially among the Justices of the Supreme Court. This gives the petition of Gideon a boost into the criminal justice system and in the recognition, in legal counsel.
On the issue of the right to counsel, there are issues that arise from this. An essential and one standard rule is that the individual who is bringing the petition for review before the United States Supreme Court must have been exceedingly harmed by the action. This simply implies that another person could have a similar case to that of Gideon and have a petition concerning the same. In this case, it is only Gideon that had been wronged, and, therefore, was only up to him, or his lawyer to request for appeal (Chitika, 2012). However, and so obvious, in fact, was that Gideon did not have a lawyer during his first trial making him to send the petition on his own. This is an exceptionally an action from a courageous person. It is crucial to take into account that a case in the 1940s between Betts and Brady had set up the rules for assigning a lawyer or attorney to a defendant who is not in a position to afford the services of a lawyer. The expenses of the public attorneys should be a responsibility of the state. This implies and brings up the notion that courts plagued with problems and challenges as represented in Gideon’s case.
However, justices are well familiar with the Betts vs. Brady’s rules, and know when a defendant has a right to counsel. It is in this condition that Gideon is forced to bring his petition to the United States Supreme Court (Chitika, 2012). The issue in this case is broader than expected, and it seems that the timing and meaning for Gideon are just perfect. Gideon has been wronged by the actions of the lower court, and the same might happen to any other citizen in the United States. Therefore, these are actions that possibly make judges examine closely the petition.
It is not only capital offences where the right to counsel should apply. This is because a lot of offences or crimes are of minor magnitude and strength and might lead to innocent people being convicted because of lack of representation in court. It is not all people who are capable of defending themselves in court, even if they are innocent. This is the case that happened to Gideon. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the appeal was accepted and he was able to prove his innocence. There should be the right to counsel for all offences, including crimes on small robbery like the one that happened at the pool hall. Although there are established rules and regulations on who has the right to counsel, this should be reviewed to ensure that such a case is represented. This will ensure that innocent and poor people in societies do not get convicted of crimes they have not committed.
The reason why judges from the Supreme Court decided to hear Gideon’s case was because they considered it important even though it went against the long-time established rules and regulations on the right to counsel. The same case applies on the question of whether attorneys be appointed for all indigent defendants. Indigent defendant refer to people who are charged with crimes and are financially incapable of hiring lawyers or attorneys to represent them in court (Vile and Menez, 2010). They are, therefore, represented by public defenders that are paid by the State. Being financially unable of paying for a lawyer implies that one might not be able to defend himself or herself sufficiently in court during the trial as was the case with Gideon.
Gideon’s case stands out as a case that should be analyzed by many individuals especially those in the criminal justice field. The right to counsel should be reviewed to include all defendants that are financially unable to afford a lawyer. This will save a lot when it comes to saving the innocents and convicting the real offenders in society.
Chitika, D. (2012, April 12). Gideon’s Trumpet: Chapter 1 + 2 Summary and Analysis. Gideon’s Trumpet. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://gideonstrumpethelp.blogspot.com/2012/04/chapter-1-2-summary-and-analysis.html
Lewis, A. (2011, February 10). Gideon’s Trumpet Summary. stayanonymous on HubPages. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://stayanonymous.hubpages.com/hub/Gideons-Trumpet-Summary
Vile, J. R., & Menez, J. F. (2010). Essential Supreme Court decisions: Summaries of leading cases in U.S. constitutional law. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.