Gideon’s Trumpet

Lewis, Anthony. Gideon’s Trumpet. New York: Random House, 1964.

If you have ever wondered how the statement “you have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will appointed to you” first came about you should read Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis. Gideon’s Trumpet follows the case of Clarence Earl Gideon, a petty thief who had been in and out of jail all his life. After landing in a Florida jail for breaking and entering Gideon managed to file a handwritten petition certiorari with the Supreme Court claiming his right to legal counsel was violated during his trial. the Supreme Court agreed. This launched Gideon v. Wainright, a landmark case that started the evolution of the Miranda Warning. While Lewis’s book is brief it is highly readable and informative. It is easy to see Clarence Gideon, and even the legal system, as real humans making history.

Favorite quote: “Every spring the justices struggle to overcome procrastination, to compromise their differences, to finish up opinions on all the argued cases so that they can end the term in June, as scheduled, and go off to lie in the sun or make speeches at lawyers’ meetings, as the spirit moves them” (p 38). Too funny. Sounds like where I work.

Author Fact: Anthony Lewis resides in MA (according to his wiki page).
Book Trivia: According to IMDB Gideon’s Trumpet was made into a made-for-television movie in 1980.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Legal Eagles in Nonfiction” (p 135).



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