Levin College of Law

40th Anniversary of Decision

A key participant in the 1963 major U.S. Supreme Court case establishing right to counsel for anyone facing felony charges will be featured Thursday in a noon presentation at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Bruce R. Jacob, who as an assistant attorney general for Florida argued the state’s side of the landmark Gideon v.Wainwright case 40 years ago, will speak at Holland Hall Auditorium in a presentation sponsored by the Florida Law Review.

Legal experts contend “no Supreme Court decision has done more to extend protections of the Constitution to all people than Gideon v. Wainwright,” and Jacob – now dean emeritus and professor of law at Stetson University College of Law – will discuss his role in the case and its subsequent impact.

Information on presentation:
Law Review Editor Ben Diamond (352.392.2148 or review4@law.ufl.edu)

Background on case:
Clarence Earl Gideon, then 51, was convicted of breaking into a Florida pool room and stealing a small amount of money. At his trial, he asked the judge to appoint a lawyer to represent him, but the request was refused (state law at the time only allowed for free counsel in capital cases). Gideon, who had only an eighth grade education, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court – which subsequently agreed with Gideon that the Constitution guaranteed him legal representation. Gideon’s conviction was overturned and he was freed from jail. A 1980 movie, “Gideon’s Trumpet,” chronicled the case.

Background on Professor Jacob:
Began his career in 1960 as an assistant attorney general for the state, then worked in Bartow and Lakeland for what is now Holland & Knight. Subsequently joined Emory University School of Law faculty, where he established Legal Assistance for Inmates Program at Atlanta Penitentiary; assisted in creation of Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project while at Harvard Law School; served as professor and director of clinical programs at Ohio State University College of Law; was dean and professor at Mercer University School of Law; and Stetson University president and dean of its law school 1981-94. In 1994-95 on sabbatical, he attended UF law school and earned his LL.M. in Taxation. Jacob’s opponent in Gideon case was Abe Fortas, partner in Washington law firm who later served on U.S. Supreme Court.

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Published: September 25th, 2003

Category: News

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