2013 - 2014 LEGISLATURE
October 28, 2013 - Introduced by Representatives Mason, Goyke, Berceau,
Ringhand, Ohnstad, Barnes, Billings, Riemer, Hintz, Johnson, Kolste,
Wright, Sargent, C. Taylor, Hebl, Pope, Young, Hesselbein, Zepnick,
Genrich, Doyle, Wachs, Smith, Clark, Bewley, Vruwink, Barca, Danou,
Pasch, Jorgensen, Sinicki, Bies, Kahl, Hulsey and Kessler, cosponsored by
Senators Harris, Risser, Shilling and L. Taylor. Referred to Committee on
AJR70,1,2 1Relating to: the 50th anniversary of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision
2and the right to counsel.
AJR70,1,53 Whereas, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, "In
4all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance
5of Counsel for his defence"; and
AJR70,1,96 Whereas, on March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court unanimously
7ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that the right to counsel in a criminal trial is a
8fundamental constitutional right enshrined in the Sixth Amendment's guarantee to
9a fair trial; and
AJR70,1,1210 Whereas, the Supreme Court's decision recognized that access to a lawyer is
11essential to ensuring that criminal trials are fair and ruled that the states must
12provide a lawyer to criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire one; and
AJR70,1,1513 Whereas, Clarence Earl Gideon was forced to represent himself in a criminal
14trial because he could not afford to hire a lawyer and the state of Florida refused to
15provide one for him, resulting in his incarceration for a crime he did not commit; and
  1Whereas, from a prison cell in Rainford, Florida, Mr. Gideon wrote a
2handwritten letter to the United States Supreme Court and successfully petitioned
3the Supreme Court to ensure that all people, regardless of income, have access to a
4competent defense attorney when facing criminal prosecution; and
AJR70,2,75 Whereas, amid the stacks of petitions and letters the Supreme Court receives
6each day the court read Mr. Gideon's petition, granted certiorari, and ultimately
7reversed Mr. Gideon's conviction; and
AJR70,2,10   8Whereas, Mr. Gideon fundamentally changed the face of the American legal
9system by successfully arguing that the Constitution ensures the right of a poor
10person to have an attorney appointed to defend him or her in a criminal case; and
AJR70,2,1211 Whereas, even before the landmark Gideon decision Wisconsin recognized the
12obligation to provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford it; and
AJR70,2,1513 Whereas, article I, section 7 of the Wisconsin Constitution provides that all
14defendants in all criminal prosecutions in Wisconsin shall enjoy the right to counsel;
AJR70,2,1716 Whereas, to guarantee this right Wisconsin created the Office of the State
17Public Defender as an independent executive-branch agency; and
AJR70,2,2018 Whereas, since 1978 the State Public Defender has been competently and
19zealously protecting the individual rights of the accused and fulfilling the state's
20Sixth Amendment obligation; and
AJR70,2,2221 Whereas, the State Public Defender is recognized nationally and
22internationally as a model program in the field of defender services; and
AJR70,2,2523 Whereas, as the Gideon decision so aptly noted, the "noble ideal [of our justice
24system] cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers
25without a lawyer to assist him"; now, therefore, be it
1Resolved by the assembly, the senate concurring, That the legislature
2recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainwright decision and the 35th
3anniversary of the opening of the Wisconsin State Public Defender's first trial offices,
4and commends the State Public Defender for delivering valuable services to its
5clients and safeguarding Wisconsin's justice system with the awareness that we
6must fight to maintain Gideon's legacy and ensure that all Wisconsinites, regardless
7of income, have access to competent counsel in order to protect the individual
8liberties afforded by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
AJR70,3,99 (End)