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Federal Public Defenders and Students Revisit Right to Counsel

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To mark the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court decision that redefined the right to counsel, Federal Public Defenders for the District of Columbia and high school students from across the nation are bringing the case to federal court.

The program, developed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for courts across the country, includes student re-enactments of Gideon v. Wainwright and In re Gault, the case that established the right to counsel for juveniles. Students also have an opportunity for a no-holds-barred conversation with the defenders about issues of importance to teens.

D.C. Federal Public Defenders are conducting three courtroom events with students from almost every state who are visiting Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the Close Up Foundation, on April 3, May 1, and May 29.

The materials and how-to information for use in courtrooms and classrooms are available in the Educational Resources section on uscourts.gov. To find a nearby, participating federal courthouse, contact the National Outreach Manager at AOgrp_Outreach@ao.uscourts.gov.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Gideon v. Wainwright on March 18, 1963. Clarence Gideon, who was convicted of breaking and entering, successfully appealed his case while in a Florida prison, arguing that he had a right to state-appointed counsel under the Constitution.

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