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52 U. Louisville L. Rev. Online 1 (2013)
Gideon v. Wainwright: Process, Substance, and the Illusiveness of Fairness
Cedric Merlin Powell*

The majestic constitutional mandate of Gideon v. Wainwright that “any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him” underscores the classic constitutional tension between process and substance. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is fundamental and applicable to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In practice, this fundamental right to be heard by counsel is often illusory, so our conceptions of due process, fairness, the legitimacy of outcomes from the criminal justice process, and our search for the “truth” are often severely limited by systemic, political, and economic barriers inherent in our polity.

* Professor of Law, University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. My thanks to Nina Couch, J.D. Candidate, December 2013, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, for her excellent research assistance.