DISCUSSION QUESTION 3-2
MJ 602 Public Policy and Criminal Justice
Lesson 3: Prosecution and Defense
Discussion Question 2 (50 points)
In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, “If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in his prison cell to write a letter to the Supreme Court, the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed. But Gideon did write the letter, the Court did look into his case, and the whole course of American legal history has been changed” (http://www.landmarkcases.org/Gideon/home/htm).
Many of the decisions the United States Supreme Court renders are based on the principle of stare decisis, or “let the previous decision stand.” In the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Court clearly broke with a precedent it had previously established through prior case law, stare decisis. Review the Gideon v. Wainwright case and analyze it for the purpose of citing its key finding and the Court’s rationale. See the majority opinion written by Justice Hugo Black.
The Gideon case is cited as “Gideon v. Wainwright,” 372 U.S. 335 (1963). There are a number of Web sites where you can retrieve the facts/findings of the case. One such Web site is http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. Another Web site is http://www.landmarkcases.org/gideon/home.html. Discuss the key finding and the Court’s rationale. (50 points) (A 2-page response is required.)
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