Arnold & Porter Receives "Gideon Award" as 50th Anniversary Year of Landmark Right to Counsel Ruling Approaches

December 13, 2012

Arnold & Porter LLP received the Gideon Award November 14 from the Maryland Office of the Public Defender as the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark right to counsel decision in Gideon v. Wainwright approaches.  It was on March 18, 1963 that the Justices unanimously held that Clarence Gideon had been unconstitutionally deprived of his right to counsel guaranteed by the 14th and 6th Amendments when tried pro se in a Florida court for petty larceny, and sentenced to five years in jail.  As Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In our adversary system of justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.”  Arguing the right to counsel in state and federal criminal prosecutions before the High Court was Abe Fortas, when the firm was called Arnold Fortas & Porter.  Partner John Nassikas III accepted the award during the Maryland Office of the Public Defender’s own 40th anniversary and awards dinner held at the American Visionary Art Museum.  Pictured with Mr. Nassikas are Paul B. DeWolfe (center), Public Defender of Maryland, and A,. Stephen Hut, Jr. (right), Assistant Public Defender.

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