This week, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright, the Supreme Court decision that established the right to counsel for those too poor to afford an attorney and facing deprivation of liberty.
Clarence Earl Gideon was an unlikely hero — a drifter who had spent his entire life in and out of jail — but convinced the U.S. Constitution guaranteed him a right to an attorney, even though the courts said it did not.
His handwritten brief to the U.S. Supreme Court would chart a course to this landmark decision. Watch this brief CBS video about the case that was created for the 50th anniversary of the decision.
Gideon appears in a re-enactment of his appearance in court and it tells the story of the role played in the case by Memphis native and future Supreme Court Justice, Abe Fortas. Click the image to watch.