March 18th marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), the landmark case that changed the landscape of indigent defense. In Gideon, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires states to provide an attorney to indigent defendants charged with a serious crime. Nine years after Gideon, in Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972), the court extended the right to counsel to defendants facing a potential loss of liberty in criminal cases without regard to whether the offense was classified as a felony.
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