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News | November, 15 2023

Gideon at 60: Summarizing A Snapshot of State Public Defense Systems and Paths to System Reform

In 1963, the Supreme Court decided in Gideon v. Wainwright that, for criminal cases to be fair, defense lawyers are “necessities, not luxuries.” States must ensure that people who cannot afford defense lawyers are provided with them at government expense.[1] The Court has clarified Gideon’s scope over time[2] but has left decisions about the administration, funding, and oversight of public defense to the states, which have created a variety of models.