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10 thoughts on “Chasing Gideon

  1. Laura Laura says:

    I picked this book up a wee bit narcissistically A case I worked on State v ANJ is prominently featured In that case a 12 year old boy pled guilty to sexual molestation after playing a game of “Icky Poke U” with a young girl He pled guilty on advice of counsel the appointed public defender who had accepted a flat fee to represent just about anyone Grant County sent his way meaning the faster he dealt with each case the better his hourly rate was He pled not meaningfully understanding what he was pleading too or what the conseuences would be My old boss blogged about it My court allowed him to withdraw his plea which reuired a pretty searching look into the euities of the case and the state of the law Grant County was a bad place to be charged with a crime at least back then and at least when you couldn’t afford private defense counsel To save money Grant County had no public defender; it bid out contracts to attorneys many of which were phoning it in Many of those attorneys have since been disbarred I staffed some of those cases I thought it was an aberration It worked out for ANJ He got good lawyers Garth Dano George Ahrend and John Strait who did good There are lots of good lawyers out there eager to hold the State to it’s proof; to make it justify the use of force over an individual; and to do it for paltry wages But the courtroom is no place for lone wolves Public defenders are among my favorite people But systemic underfunding of the system means that many people don’t get an adeuate defense before the full force of the State comes down upon them This is a book about how the promise of Gideon has not been met in oh so many places Including my own I have guilt about my complicity in and profit from this system And pride that I know many awesome public defenders and ethical prosecutors judges and legislators including a former extern who stepped up after Katrina It also suggests that Gideon’s habeas was ghost written by an attorney Joseph A Peel Jr who was in prison with him If so it adds a certain texture to the story Gideon wasn’t Henry Fonda He was a man who was lucky in his cellmates From systemic underfunding to the subtle ways juries are made lily white this book is a gentle but devastating critiue of our justice system for the poor A hard book to read Definitely worth the time


  2. Pauline Pauline says:

    Hooboy This was a chilling read on the state of indigent defense in the US fifty years after Gideon v Wainwright Clearly written for even a clueless layperson Houppert does a deep dive on a handful of cases and the circumstances that created the systems around them including a look at New Orleans beforeafter Katrina and highlights how corruption and changes in criminal law since Gideon have undermined the promise of rigorous defense for the poor Houppert offers no easy solutions to the grievous situations she presents; rather her purpose is awareness and empathy I'll be thinking about this for a long while yet for sureWould highly recommend It's not going to be fun or easy to read like a nice fantasy but nothing important ever is


  3. Kressel Housman Kressel Housman says:

    2013 was the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v Wainright which determined that attorney representation in criminal cases is a Constitutional right For details see my review of Gideon's Trumpet This book examines how the country has been delivering on that decision for these fifty years and unfortunately the answer is very poorly Following a few specific cases of terrible miscarriages of justice Karen Houppert paints a human picture of indigent defendants and their attorneys Public defenders are so overworked and underfunded that they cannot possibly represent their clients adeuately and when appeals get filed on those grounds it ends up costing the justice system even It’s a terrible catch 22 because there is hardly any political will to fund indigent defense in the first place But failure to do so is a danger to safety and democracyIn spite of all that the book is still a call to action Anyone interested in a career in law should definitely read it and really its message is relevant to all Americans I for one will be checking out the book’s website to see what I can do next And I hope that by publicizing the book with this review I’ve also made one small step toward public justice


  4. Alan Mills Alan Mills says:

    2013 is the 50th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon which along with its progeny reuires that every criminal defendant who faces the possibility of jail must be given an effective lawyer at EVERY step of the process from bail through the first appeal However in most states today that Supreme Court order is honored mostly in the breach Public defenders are vastly over worked under compensated and given almost no supportHouppert sets out to examine the current state of criminal defense first be revisiting Gideon itself and the back story behind the case it turns out Gideon probably had the helped a lawyer when filing his handwritten pro se petition to the Supreme Court She then goes on to examine individual cases in Washington State Louisiana and Georgia to see how the right to counsel plays out in the trial courts of each state She demonstrates both how important a lawyer is and how overburdened those lawyers areThe cases represent a good cross section a vehicular manslaughter a trespassingburglary case and two murders one a wrongful conviction the other a mentally retarded man facing the death penaltySuperb storytelling masterfully interweaving facts and figures into these case studies to present a damning picture of criminal defense today


  5. Meepspeeps Meepspeeps says:

    This book is about the haves and the have nots when it comes to criminal defense in the USA She tells the stories of overworked underfunded public defenders and their clients who miss out on their constitutional right to effective counsel She assesses the lack of progress in the 50 years since the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon but does not offer a solution It's clear again similar to my reaction to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander that the failure of the War on Drugs contributes heavily to this problem by flooding the public defenders with small time crimes So often jail time is the answer when diversion rehab or school is the better solution I started thinking about formulae related to police expenditure and prosecution ie you have to spend X on public defense if you're spending Y on police and the prosecutor's office I recommend it to peeps who seek a just society but after reading it there's homework to find out what's happening in your own community


  6. John John says:

    Public defense is not currently funded on eual levels with prosecution that creates huge problems When the convicted of a defendant is challenged on the basis of inadeuate representation the very legitimacy of the conviction itself is call into uestion The criminal justice system in New Orleans indeed the nation seems similarly poised between plot twist an ending that could go either way


  7. Marnie Lansdown Marnie Lansdown says:

    Really really important topic The book provides a lot of information about the indigent defense system in this country by giving real personal examples If you think you could never be accused of and convicted of a crime you didn't commit think again I can't say I enjoyed this book but it did really like reading it and I learned a lot


  8. Cristina Cristina says:

    I had to read this book for my English class I am so glad I did I knew absolutely nothing about Gideon's case and how it affects Public Defenders today It is an amazing book showing us our ¨justice¨ system and it's flaws I am still astounded by funding and the real side to a Public attorney's profession as well as a few cases I definitely recommend this book


  9. Margaret Sankey Margaret Sankey says:

    Houppert follows the case of Gideon v Wainwright establishing right to counsel through its wildly uneven implementation in states where private prisons offer no incentive for funding good defense lawyers complicated expert witness testimony and medical advice can mean the difference between life and death and where caseloads are crushing


  10. Claire Claire says:

    I am going to rate this as far as I can tell as an interesting look at the legal world written for a layman's audience particularly drawing through the title It tracks the history of how somebody could plead his or her case before the court without any moneyThe reason why I don't know for sure whether it's for a layman or not is that I don't think I myself countSo maybe it is and maybe it is not and I honestly couldn't tell youI think the data in this book is pretty good I particularly like the American Bar Association's Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System explained in the backSo if you want to read it have at it


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Chasing Gideon [BOOKS] ✮ Chasing Gideon By Karen Houppert – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk On March 18 1963 the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Gideon v Wainwright that all defendants charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment of than a year have the constitutional right to free On March the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Gideon v Wainwright that all defendants charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment of than a year have the constitutional right to free legal counsel if they cannot afford their own In the fifty years since the ruling including the years of the national War on Drugs the number of prosecutions in America’s courts has skyrocketed now totaling approximately million each year Today an estimated percent of defendants are served by indigent defense Chasing Gideon by veteran reporter Karen Houppert examines the legacy of this landmark decision chronicling the cases of defendants across the country who have relied on Gideon’s promise Houppert’s investigation takes her from Washington state where overextended public defenders juggle impossible caseloads; and New Orleans where systemic flaws are so pervasive at every level of the criminal justice apparatus that it occasionally nears collapse; to Georgia where an underfunded capital defense program jeopardizes the efficacy of counsel in death penalty cases; and Florida where revisiting the original Gideon lawsuit challenges basic assumptions about the right to legal counsel for the poor These compelling narratives illuminate reform efforts as well as the critical problems that plague indigent defense in the United States helping us to understand how and why it is failing and what can be done to better fulfill Gideon’s promiseA half century after Anthony Lewis’ award winning Gideon’s Trumpet chronicled the story of the court case that changed the American justice system Chasing Gideon picks up where Lewis’s book left off bringing renewed attention to an essential aspect of our criminal justice system and offering keen insight into how we might save it.