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Gideon v. Wainwright at 50: Defenders and Teachers Analyze Right to Counsel

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Assistant Federal Public Defenders Dani Jahn and Jonathan Jeffress discuss the importance of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright with a group of school teachers.

Fifty years after Gideon v. Wainwright redefined and reaffirmed a criminal defendant’s right to counsel, the U.S. Courts have unveiled a series of courtroom-ready and classroom-ready activities to provide a teen-age perspective on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, which was decided on March 18, 1963.

The activities were launched in a January program, at the Washington, D.C., district court. Teachers from across the nation re-enacted the case, and then discussed a wide range of questions with assistant federal public defenders. View the audio slideshow and listen to assistant federal public defenders discuss the importance of the right to counsel.

The following Gideon-related activities are available in the Educational Resources section on the U.S. Courts website.

Interactive resources for high school teachers and their students include:

  • A brief podcast and case summary give an overview of the case.
  • A readers theater script allows students to re-enact the story of Clarence Gideon, starting when he was in eighth grade.
  • A realistic scenario, in which law-abiding teens could find themselves, is a platform for students to apply Gideon and build a case as public defenders. A teachers’ guide is included.

For further information, contact the National Outreach Manager for the Federal Courts.