On the 46th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright (the 1963 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing counsel to indigent people facing criminal charges), former vice-president Walter Mondale writes in today’s Washington Post about the failure of states around the country to appoint lawyers to poor defendants in criminal cases–and the need to expand the right into civil matters.
“A number of lawyers groups, led by the American Bar Association, have endorsed an expansion of the right to counsel recognized by Gideon to noncriminal matters where important legal rights, such as loss of housing, are at stake,” Mondale wrote in today’s op ed.
“Many European countries provide such representation to indigent civil litigants,” he continued. “The backtracking that we are experiencing in the area of criminal representation undermines these efforts to move forward in the civil area. Our justice system depends on the idea that everyone is to be treated fairly, but a lack of resources is affecting the progress the Gideon decision brought to our criminal justice system and is blocking progressive efforts to extend the right to counsel in certain civil cases.” To read the op-ed, click here.