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New ‘Court Shorts’ Video Details Right to Counsel

A new “Court Shorts” video, focusing on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, has been released by the federal judiciary, expanding a series of short video and audio podcasts that teach young people about our nation’s Constitution, courts and individual rights.

The video was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Criminal Justice Act, which provides paid appointed counsel for federal criminal defendants who cannot afford a lawyer.

The five-minute video explains how a landmark 1963 case, Gideon v. Wainwright, helped guarantee the right to appointed counsel to Americans in every state. It also answers a series of questions posed by students: What is the right to counsel and why is it important? What happens if someone can’t afford a lawyer? Does it apply to young people?

Answering those questions and others are two U.S. District Court judges, a federal magistrate judge, an assistant federal prosecutor, and current and former assistant federal public defenders, who have represented criminal defendants.

“Court Shorts” are educational tools that students and teachers can use to learn more about the judicial branch. Previous videos include discussions of trial by jury and an impartial judiciary, and audio podcasts discuss judicial review and separation of powers.

To learn more about Court Shorts, and other federal court education programs, see the Educational Resources page at

Related Topics: Defender Services, Public Education