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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

LDF Marks 50th Anniversary of Indigent Defense Counsel

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fifty years ago, on March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, which vindicated the rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and required states to provide defense counsel to individuals accused of serious crimes and unable to afford a lawyer. As the Court observed in Gideon, “in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” Yet today, far too many states have not met their constitutional obligation to provide equal justice to rich and poor alike, while the intersection of race and class have left African-Americans accused of crimes in the greatest need of legal assistance. Read more about the struggle to implement Gideon :