The Law: No Lawyer, No Jail

In its landmark Gideon decision of 1963, the Supreme Court proclaimed that any indigent person accused of a felony has a right to free counsel. Two years later, the court had a chance to extend this right to people accused of misdemeanors, but for unspecified reasons it chose to pass up the case. If the Warren Court feared to tread such ground, could the more cautious Burger Court be expected to rush in? Last week it did just that—unanimously. From now on, said Justice Douglas, "no person may be imprisoned for any offense unless he was represented by counsel at his...

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