March 30, 2010
The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent her or him.
United States Supreme Court, Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
This story, like all stories, begins with a place. It begins in the early morning of June 3, 1961 at the Bay Harbor Pool Room in Panama City, Florida. A robbery at the Bay Harbor Pool Room set into motion a row of legal dominoes that toppled all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The trial of Clarence Earl Gideon, who lived just down the street from and frequented the Bay Harbor Pool Room, who did not have the benefit of an attorney at his trial, and who pressed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, enhanced the right of Americans to counsel. Before 1963, each state determined if and when an attorney needed to be provided to a defendant and this determination could be applied selectively on a case-by-case basis. In 1963 the Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright ruled that the right to the assistance of counsel was a fundamental right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and essential for a fair trial.