Criminal

Gideon v. Wainwright Right to Counsel Part 2

At his trial Gideon cross examined the witnesses for the prosecution. He decided not to take the witness stand on his own behalf. He was convicted. It was given a 5 year sentence for the crime of breaking and entering with intent to committing a misdemeanor. He was given a longer sentence than usual because he had previously been convicted of both state and Federal crimes. This is the picture of William Harris who was the prosecutor in both of the 2 Gideon trials. Gideon did not, did not say to direct appeal but instead he did what many Florida defendants, convicted defendants did. He filed a hand written Habeas Corpus petition directly in Florida Supreme Court. In this petition he did not alleged that was any special circumstance involved his case. And the Florida supreme court denied the Habeas petition for the under best versus Brady you would have to alleged at least one special circumstance to obtain relief. He then sounds a handwritten sorority petition to the United States Supreme Court. Supreme Court asked our office the criminal appeal section of the attorney general’s office and Tallahassee. He got a typewritten response to Gideon’s petition. There were only 4 of us in that office handling almost all of the criminal appeals and pulus conviction cases for the entire state. I was the newest one of the four judges and the only one who had not yet argued the case in the United States Supreme Court and certainly that was the one reason I was chosen to respond to this petition from Gideon.

Also there were some other reasons, Judge Bowen and I had written, or worked on large articles together and also we had done our detail research report to the Governor of Florida on how law and enforcement officer should treat the freedom writers they came through Florida. Judge Bowen my boss knew that I enjoyed research also I enjoyed legal history. It was March 1962 when I was assigned to the case; I was 26 years old at that time. I prepared the response. 2 months later the court ran Gideon petition and asked counsel on both sides among other things to discuss question that whether or not the doctrine of best versus Brady should be quote “reconsidered”. Those of us in the criminal appeals section of attorney general’s office court was about to overrule bets and they certainly wanted to overrule bets and we realized Gideon case would probably be the case that the court would use to accomplish this. We hoped however the rule would not be extended to misdemeanors because we believed it would be very difficult for the state as a financial or as practical matter to implement a requirement of that, of that kind. I began doing research on the brief and in early 19.

Francisco Hernandez

Author Francisco Hernandez

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