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Gideon v. Wainwright

From: Florida Supreme Court case files, S. 49, Box 2780, Case 31116

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Page 1

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Page 1

About This Document

In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the United States Supreme Court confirmed the right of the individual to counsel, even in cases not involving capital offenses. U.S. Attorney General and Senator Robert Kennedy described the case as having changed the course of American legal history.

The case began when an obscure inmate in a Florida prison, Clarence Earl Gideon, picked up a pencil and began writing his own lawsuit against the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections. Before the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the Florida Supreme Court heard the appeal of the original conviction. Clarence Earl Gideon was convicted of robbery after the judge in a circuit court refused his request for counsel and he was forced to defend himself. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. The Florida Supreme Court confirmed the circuit court ruling, denying Gideon’s appeal for a writ of habeas corpus, which would have freed him on the grounds that he had been imprisoned illegally.

The following transcription contains all of the original text (no changes have been made in spelling or grammar).

Transcript

[handwritten note]: 3/ /16

[LABEL ON UPPER RIGHT CORNER]

MOTIONS R

MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1961 H

NOT TO BE HEARD D

CT

O’T

[stamp on upper left corner, partially covering text below]

FILED

OCT 11 1961

GUYTE P. McCORD

CLERK SUPREME COURT

[illegible signature]

DEPUTY CLERK


DIVISION OF CORRECTION

COORESPONDANCE REGULATIONS

MAIL WILL NOT BE DELIVERED WHICH DOES NOT CONFORM WITH THESE RULES

No 1 – Only 2 letters each week, not to exceed 2 sheets letter-size 8 1/2 x 11’’ and written on one side only,

and if ruled paper, do not write between lines. Your complete name must be at the close of your letter. Clippings,

stamps, and prison number must be placed in lower corner of envelope, with your complete name and address in the

upper left corner.

No. 3 -- Do not send any packages without a Package Permit. Unauthorized packages will be destroyed.

No. 4 -- Letters must be written in English only.

No. 5 -- Books, magazines, pamphlets, and newspapers of reputable character will be delivered only if mailed

direct from the publisher.

No. 6 – Money must be sent in the form of Postal Money Orders only, in the inmate’s complete prison name

and prison number.

INSTITUTION [handwritten] STATE PENITENTARY RAIFORD FL CELL NUMBER [handwritten] D-9

NAME [handwritten] CLARENCE EARL GIDEON NUMBER [handwritten] 003826

[handwritten cursive] Deny [handwritten] SUPREME COURT

[handwritten] STATE OF FLORIDA

[handwritten] R PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

[initials] DAW CT OC

[initials] H [handwritten in lined space] =1= I [handwritten cursive paragraph] Clarence Earl Gideon, informs

This court that I am a pauper with

out funds are any possibility of

obtaining financeable aid, and I Beg

of this court to Listen and act

upon my plea.

=2= ON the 3rd day of June 1961

A.D. I was arrested and charged

with the crime of Breaking and

entering with the intent to

committ a misdeamor to wit

petty Larceny. And that I plead

not guilty to this charge. That

on the 4th day of August 1961

A.D.I was tried in court of BAY

COUNTY the 14th DISTRICT COURT

IN AND FOR THE STATE OF FLORIDA

and was found guilty as charge

That on the 25th day of August

1961 A.D. was sentenced to a term

of five years (5 yrs) in the State

Prison.