On this day, 60 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided on Gideon V. Wainwright, guaranteeing the right of legal counsel to anyone accused of a crime.
This problem was addressed in Clarence Earl Gideon’s case, who was accused of breaking and entering in the state of Florida. Upon appearing in court to stand trial, Gideon requested legal counsel and it was denied.
Gideon was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. He later sent a request to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court held that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution requires states to provide attorneys to defendants who are unable to afford their own.
This unanimous decision is what makes it possible now for all individuals to have access to legal representation regardless of their status.
“As a result of this landmark decision, we as a community provided the necessary legal structure to establish, of course, the public defenders,” said the Governor.
The first independent office of the Public Defender was established on Guam in 1972 and has provided effective legal counsel and assistance to those unable to afford it ever since.
Leon Guerrero stated “The Public Defender Service Corporation has over a 120,000 files representing our clients since its inception,”
The Governor proclaimed March 18, 2023 in recognition of this landmark decision and in commemoration of Public Defense Day.
“My administration will continue, as always, to support you in any way we can to make your services much more accessible to our people and to provide you with the resources that are necessary to conduct your business,” added governor Leon Guerrero.