HGov: Sixth and Seventh Amendment Case Study


Amendment 6

The Sixth Amendment guarantees additional rights to the accused: to have a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, to hear and question witnesses, and to be defended by a lawyer.

In the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, Clarence Earl Gideon was unable to afford an attorney. He asked the court to provide him free legal counsel, however, Florida courts provided such services only in death penalty cases. The judge turned him down and Gideon was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon filed an appeal that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. The justices sided with Gideon, arguing that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of legal counsel should not depend on the defendant’s ability to pay.

In the case of Sheppard v. Maxwell, Sam Sheppard’s wife was murdered at the couple’s home. Sheppard claimed that an armed intruder had knocked him unconscious and then killed his wife. The Cleveland press covered the story relentlessly, in a manner that implied Sheppard’s guilt. Sheppard appealed his conviction arguing that biased press coverage had prevented him from getting a fair trial. The Court overturned the murder conviction, agreeing that coverage of the trial had “inflamed and prejudiced the public.” Although the Court acknowledged the media’s First Amendment rights, it said that press coverage should not be allowed to interfere with a defendant’s right to due process. In cases where intense media coverage might unfairly influence a trial, the trial should be moved to another location or the jury should be isolated from all news coverage.

Amendment 7

The Seventh Amendment assures the right to a jury trial in civil cases. Civil cases do not involve criminal matters.

No court cases.

 

 

 

 


Homework:
1) Read Chapter 14 pp.445-474
2) Read Chapter 15 pp.481-511

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