Natural law in the Gideon Case

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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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...