In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court unanimously held that indigent state felony defendants are constitutionally entitled to the appointment of trial counsel. The opinion aroused wide support, and even enthusiasm, almost from the moment it was announced in 1963. Two and a half decades later this support has not diminished. However, are the words of praise only lip service to the noble idea of the right to counsel? Has Gideon really made a difference? Has its promise of a fair shake for poor criminal defendants been kept, or has Gideon meant only that defendants are provided with the fleeting and pressured presence of an unprepared lawyer? Moreover, does Gideon's extend beyond the initial criminal trial stage to other important quasi-criminal and civil proceedings?
Michael B. Mushlin, Gideon v. Wainwright Revisited: What Does the Right to Counsel Guarantee Today?, 10 Pace L. Rev. 327 (1990), available at http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/466/.