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The Right to Counsel: How It Affects You

How does the Sixth Amendment right to counsel affect law-abiding citizens?

In a new video, federal judges and public defense attorneys discuss the significance of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963).

“The right to counsel is really the fundamental cornerstone of our justice system,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman, of the Western District of New York. “Imagine a system of justice where you don’t have the right to a lawyer; where you can simply be accused of doing something wrong and taken right to prison.”

Also featured in the video are U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, District of Maryland; U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins, District of Arizona; Federal Public Defender Kyana K. Givens, Massachusetts; Federal Public Defender Eric A. Vos, Puerto Rico; and Akin Adepoju, of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ Defender Services Office.

“We cannot have a fair and equitable democracy if we don’t have a process to evaluate and challenge when someone is accused,” Givens said.

The video is part of Court Shorts, a series of brief educational videos about the federal courts and Constitutional principles.

Related Topics: Judicial History, Public Education