As most public interest lawyers have heard by now, this week marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court's landmark decision guaranteeing counsel in felony cases. But has that holding lived up to its promise? The web is filled with thoughtful stories about the state of that constitutional right today, including this one from NBC's blog called "A 'nobody's' legacy: How a semi-literate ex-con changed the legal system" and this interesting piece from the Huffington Post called "Gideon v. Wainwright Anniversary Highlights Lingering Problems." The latter story quotes Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont as saying that a half-century later, there are parts of the country where "it is better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent." Senator Leahy said court-appointed lawyers often are underpaid and can be "inexperienced, inept, uninterested or worse." Cynical or true, what do you think?
Bonus Link - Click here if you're interested in hearing a recording of the oral argument before the Supreme Court.