The Law: Credit for Time Served

In Asheville, N.C., Federal Judge J. Braxton Craven pondered the remarkable fact that one Eddie Patton, by establishing that he had been unconstitutionally imprisoned, had won a new trial at which he lost even more of his liberty.

Patton's ironic encounter with justice began in 1960 when he was arrested for armed robbery. Lacking bond, he stayed in jail until his trial at which, without counsel, he was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary. Three years later, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that every defendant, even if indigent, is entitled to counsel,...

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