"You Have the Right to an Attorney..." We All Know the Hollywood Version, But What's the Real Story?

"You have the right to remain silent. You have to right to an attorney...If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you at no cost to you..."

We all know this refrain, echoed time and time again by cops on TV and cops on our neighborhood streets. But is this promise actually fulfilled for those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer?

Until Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteed legal representation regardless of your ability to pay, dire poverty could unfairly stack the scales of justice against a poor person charged with a felony. This coming Monday will mark the 50th anniversary of Gideon, and we should take a moment to acknowledge our debt to Clarence Earl Gideon, whose handwritten petition to the Supreme Court resulted in this landmark decision holding that a poor person accused of a felony is entitled to counsel if he cannot afford his own lawyer.

By playing the YouTube video above, YouTube will place a permanent cookie onto your computer.

But to truly pay tribute to Gideon's legacy, we should also be honest about the fact that too many people are still failing to get an adequate defense in 2013. Today, about 80% of criminal defendants nationwide cannot afford their own lawyer. Dedicated public defenders face a severe lack of funding and massive caseloads, and many describe having only minutes with their clients before entering the courtroom. With their liberty and their livelihoods on the line, poor people desperately need public defenders who are competent, zealously advocate for their clients, and are supported by adequate resources.

Our criminal justice system needs to do better. Over the next year, the ACLU will share stories that illustrate the state of indigent defense 50 years after Gideon. We hope that these real-world accounts will motivate us to examine how we can better fulfill our Constitutional duty to provide competent and well-resourced counsel for the poor.

Our first story, on Monday, will profile Benjamin Rush, Jr., a dedicated and severely overextended public defender from Memphis, Tennessee.

We all know the Hollywood version. Bookmark this page and check back throughout the year for the real story.

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This is so true. A person with no money gets no justice. A person with money can rape or murder someone and pay a lawyer and get little or no time. My friend had no money therefore receieved a court appointed defence lawyer who never fought for him. He told me on the phone that there was nothing he could do for him. He even told the jurors in closing “When you find my client guilty and you will.” My friend got 405 years to life for taking pictures (not a life) having porn and being in possession of a firearm and ammo. Robert Waggoner, Robert Blake, O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson are great examples of this so called justice system we have. They all had fame and money and served no time. Where is the justice here?
You're in the California - California State Wire section
Solano Co. pastor gets 18 years for child abuse

The Associated Press

Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013 | 12:33 PM
VACAVILLE, Calif. -- A former Eastern Orthodox pastor has been sentenced to 18 years in a California prison for molesting five children from his Fairfield parish.
The Reporter of Vacaville said in a story published Tuesday ( http://bit.ly/10BCpou) that a Solano County judge also ordered the Rev. Robert "Silas" Ruark of St. Timothy's Orthodox Church to pay $10,000 in restitution and to
register as a sex offender.
Ruark, who is 65 years old, was arrested in June and pleaded guilty in January to 19 counts of committing lewd acts on children. He apologized for his actions at his sentencing, saying he had betrayed his parish's trust.
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian archdiocese that St. Timothy's belongs to notified police after several of the people whom he molested as children reported the abuse, which The Record says dates as far back as 1994.


In many ways it's even worse for defendants in Civil Court. Anybody can sue anyone for anything. If you do not have thousands or tens of thousands to immediately put down toward a civil case defense you will be hit with a default judgment that can wipe out everything generations of your family worked for. Even if the plaintiff has no case or unclean hands in the matter. It's shameful. No use voting any more; we are all slaves to people who have MONEY. That's what it's all about.

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