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Natural Law In The Gideon Case

1261 words - 5 pages

Is the right to an attorney a fundamental right or not?

This very question was raise in the US Supreme Court with the case of Gideon v Wainwright. Mr. Gideon, a man in Florida, faced a misdemeanor change. When the case was brought to court he asked the court if they could appoint him an attorney because he could not afford to get one on his own. The judge in the case denied him that request because he was not facing a capital offense. The judge based his verdict on the Betts v Brady rule. The rule stated that the court must appoint an attorney if the person could not read or faced a murder trail. Since Mr. Gideon did not fit the rule he could not be appointed an attorney for his case. He did his best to defend himself but failed and was sentenced to five years in prison. He filed a habeus corpus to appeal the verdict because he felt the sentence was unjust. It was denied in the Florida State Supreme Court but since the case raised an important issue it went to the US Supreme Court for an answer. In order to make this colossal decision they had to look at different theories such as natural law and legal realism in order to make a right verdict. In the case of Gideon v Wainwright, natural law was the excellent theory to use by the Justices to reach their verdict to overturn the Betts rule because the fundamental value of a fair trail includes the right to counsel rule.
Natural law is when there are certain legal values. You can find it different places for example in religion, nature, and reason (Miksch, 2004). In the play Angtigone, the main character, Angtigone followed natural law. The given values were found in her religion. Zeus’s law ordered everyone who pass away to have the proper funeral. Angtigone’s king ordered not to give a proper funeral to Antigone’s brother because he fought against the king. The king’s law went against Zeus’s law. Antigone followed Zeus’s law because it was higher than her king’s law. Natural law was used by the Justice in a case to make his ruling. In the case of the Speluncean Explorers, Justice Foster used the natural law to reach his verdict. The given fundamental values were found in nature. He believed, that they should not be charged with murder because they were under nature law not their society. They were in the cave for twenty-two days when the doctor told them in order to survive they need to eat something. In order to survive, they had to kill off one of their own. They were outside of their society and their laws. They live under the law of nature and the act of survive.
Theses same natural values can be found in Gideon v Wainwright. In this case the Justice Black looked at the constitution to see if the right of counsel is a fundamental right or not. The constitution and reason is the fundamental values that Justice Black used to reach his verdict. In the constitution, it states that everyone have the right to fair trial. Justice Black understood that a fair trial can not be achieved without...

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