Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gideon's Trumpet Heard in New York

Washington, DC (May 6, 2010) – The New York Court of Appeals ruled today in the case of Hurrell-Harring, et al. v. New York that indigent defendants denied their constitutional right to counsel do not have to be first convicted before seeking to vindicate that right. Until now, indigent defendants have been prevented from seeking redress of the denial of their right to counsel, which attaches at arraignment, unless and until they are convicted. The Court was clear, “Wrongful convictions … are not the only injustices that command our present concern…. The absence of representation at critical stages is capable of causing grave and irreparable injury to persons who will not be convicted.” Addressing the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1963 decision guaranteeing the right to counsel for all, the Court announced that “Gideon’s guarantee to the assistance of counsel does not turn upon a defendant’s guilt or innocence, and neither can the availability of a remedy for its denial.”—News Release of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

New York Court of Appeals decision
joint amicus brief
Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

hat tip: Legal Ethics Forum

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