School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 7 Up-Unable to pay for a lawyer to represent him, a poorly educated Florida laborer named Clarence Gideon was convicted of burglary in 1961. After studying law in prison, he petitioned the higher courts for reversal of his conviction on grounds that he had been denied his constitutional right to ``assistance of counsel.'' This well-documented account explains how Gideon's case led the Supreme Court to declare for the first time that the Constitution requires courts to appoint a lawyer for an indigent criminal defendant who faces a jail term if convicted. Although the issue will seem remote to most young people, those interested in law will find that the clarity of the author's presentation coupled with the simplicity of the facts in this particular case help them to understand how law evolves on a case-by-case basis. While this offering serves up more theory than human interest, some YAs will identify with the dogged jailhouse lawyer who convinced the Supreme Court he deserved a trained lawyer and a new trial. When retried, Gideon was acquitted.-Claudia Morrow, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Julie WaltonSherrow breathes life into her contribution to the Landmark Supreme Court Cases series by revealing the people behind the laws. "From time to time throughout history, individuals have taken actions that have the capacity to dramatically affect society," she writes, and Clarence E. Gideon, convicted of burglary without the aid of counsel, was such an individual. Despite his eighth-grade education and the shocking red tape that twisted around him, Gideon eventually won the right to counsel for all people accused in criminal cases. Although clearly supportive of the Court's decision, Sherrow is careful to provide each side's perspective. She also explains relevant amendments, precedential Supreme Court decisions, and the Gideon decision and its repercussions with admirable conciseness, providing parenthetical explanations of jargon and discussion questions for further clarity. Photos of all the players involved lend appropriate drama to this truly landmark case".
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