Echoes of a Muted Trumpet

October 1, 2003

Ralph Adam Fine

Forty years ago, the United State Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution gives every person charged with a felony the right to a lawyer, irrespective of whether the defendant can afford the fee. The case, of course, was Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), made famous for nonlawyers by Anthony Lewis’s best-selling “Gideon’s Trumpet.” Gideon recognized that the legal system’s mazes and arcana were simply too daunting to be navigated or understood by persons not trained in the law. Sadly, the fairness that everyone thought the decision heralded has largely been lost in the fog of expediency.

Echoes of a Muted Trumpet