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Interactive video lesson plan for: The Sixth Amendment, Equal Protection and Due Process (s7a)

Activity overview:

Counsel for the Defense

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a poor person accused of a crime the right to a lawyer. But as we see in this class session, that guarantee is not always upheld. For many years, only those who could afford to pay for lawyers were represented in the cases against them. The Supreme Court recognized a right to counsel in capital cases in 1932, and in cases prosecuted in the federal courts in 1938. But it was not until 1963, in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, that the Supreme Court held that the states were required to provide lawyers in felony cases for those who could not afford them. Yet in practice many defendants receive extremely poor legal representation. Here we take up the question of what kind of a lawyer one is entitled to. We look at the right to “effective” assistance of counsel, the need for expert assistance, and the burdens that face defendants trying to prove that the lawyers assigned to represent them were incompetent and ineffective. We also examine the right of defendants to lawyers after they have been convicted. The class includes interviews two people who have been involved with reforming the public defender system in New Orleans. Derwyn Bunton, the Chief District Defender for Orleans Parish, discusses some of the challenges public defenders face in providing representation, especially in capital cases, due to limited funding. Stephen Singer, who was involved in a major restructuring of public defense in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, discusses efforts to improve representation and the resistance to it by some judges.

The Sixth Amendment, Equal Protection and Due Process (s7a)
This session examines the right of an accused to a transcript based on the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and the right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. It examines the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the right to counsel in Gideon v.Wainwright and the different approaches the federal, state and local governments have taken to implementing the right to counsel.

Class readings:

Tagged under: Yale,Capital Punishment,Stephen Bright,Death Penalty,Race,Poverty,Disadvantage,racial disparities,injustice,Sixth Amendment To The United States Constitution (Constitutional Amendment)

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