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Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Brian Northern

on 5 October 2012

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Transcript of Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Sixth Amendment to the
United States Constitution Prior to the revolutionary war, many colonists complained of having their rights abused at the hands of the Crown. Many of the rights outlined in the Sixth Amendment were already law in England, however, in the colonies, many of the "King's men" violated these rights.

Many people were jailed indefinitely, and held without cause, charges, or a trial. Additionally, many times people would be charged in a court that was either not public, or was held in another area far from the original jurisdiction. This made it extremely difficult for defendants to fairly defend themselves. Background Speedy Trial Rights Secured By the Sixth Amendment Vicinage/Notice of Accusation Other rights secured... Counsel/Rights in Court In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall
enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,
by an impartial jury of the State and district
wherein the crime shall have been committed, which
district shall have been previously ascertained by law,
and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;
to be confronted with the witnesses against him;
to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor,
and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. All criminal defendants have the right to a speedy trial.

This clause, protects the defendant from delay between the presentation of the indictment and the beginning of trial.

There is a four part "case-by-case balancing test" to determine whether or not a defendant's right to a speedy trial has been violated. If any of these occur, then the case is deemed prejudiced.
Length of delay: A delay of a year or more from the date of arrest or indictment, whichever first occurs.
Reason for the delay: The prosecution may not excessively delay the trial for its own advantage, but a trial may be delayed to secure the presence of an absent witness or other practical considerations.
Time and manner in which the defendant has asserted his right: If a defendant agrees to the delay when it works to his own benefit.
Degree of prejudice to the defendant which the delay has caused.
In Strunk v. United States, (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that if the court finds that a defendant's right to a speedy trial was violated, then the indictment must be dismissed and the conviction overturned. A reversal or dismissal of a criminal case on speedy trial grounds means that the defendant may not be retried. Public Trial/Right to Jury The Right to a public trial is not absolute.
Even though it is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, if excessive publicity will interfere with the right of the defendant to have a fair trial, then public access may be restricted.

All citizens have the right to a jury of their peers, however, certain circumstances change this right.
If you are charged with a crime punishable by less than 6 months imprisonment, then you are not guaranteed a jury.
If you are charged as a juvenile, then you are not afforded a jury.
Juries must be impartial, and this lack of bias can be confirmed via "voir dire", when each side questions potential jurors. The Sixth Amendment requires that defendants be tried by a jury and in the state wherein the criminal action took place.

The jury must be composed of members of the judicial district in which the trial will be held, which is the same area in which the crime was committed.

All criminal defendants have the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them.

An indictment must be precise in its meaning, so that the defendant would be able to assert double jeopardy if the same charges were issued a second time. A criminal defendant has the right to be represented by counsel. If the defendant is unable to supply counsel, then one must be appointed to him via the court.

A criminal defendant has the right to self-representation.

This right can be revoked if the court finds the defendant unable to adequately represent him/herself.

Counsel is afforded the right to cross-examine witnesses and evidence, and the defendant has the right to call witnesses in his/her favor. Background Powell vs. Alabama In March 1931, nine black men, later called the Scottsboro Boys, were convicted of raping two young white women.

This conviction was based off of the accusation by the white women, that they were raped. These accusations were later retracted.

All of the men, except for one, were sentenced to death. This ruling was challenged on the basis that the defendants were only given access to their lawyers immediately prior to the trial, leaving little or no time to plan the defense. Therefore, the group was not provided adequate legal counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment.

This was voted on in a Court of Appeals, 6-1 fair trial, and was later appealed to the Supreme Court. Majority:7 Court Opinion Dissent: 2 Overturned the ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court

The Majority held that the defendant's rights had been violated, specifically due process, and the right to an attorney.

Additionally, they held that the trial was not fair, or impartial.

They also held the conviction to be unconstitutional because the jury was composed of members excluding their own race and ethnicity. Violated trial by a jury of your peers. Asserted that the right to due process had not be violated because a mob atmosphere had not been apparent.

Found the trial by the Alabama Supreme Court to be fair and resonable. Did not believe that a retrial was necessary. Determined the right of a defendant to be provided an attorney in all captital cases.

Most of the defendants, even after a retrial, were convicted of the accused crime. Most spent many years in prison and on death row. Importance Background Gideon v. Wainwright Gideon, the defendant, was accused of burglary and arrested based on the testimony of a single witness.

Gideon was too poor to afford counsel, and the court was only allowed to appoint counsel in capital cases.

Gideon was found guilty, sentenced to five years and later appealed his case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that his Sixth Amendment rights, as applied to the states, via the Fourteenth Amendment, had been violated. Majority: 9 Court Opinion Dissent: 0 Overturned the conviction and allowed for a retrial.

The court upheld their views from Powell v. Alabama, and held that the right to counsel was a fundamental right, which was essential for a fair trial.

The court held that the Sixth Amendment, and the right to an attorney are applied to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment.

Finally, the Corut held that because the Constitution sdoes not specify whether or not a case is capital or non-capital, legal counsel must be provided in all cases. The lower court held that it could not provide legal counsel to Gideon, because under the laws of it's state (Florida), the only time it could provide counsel was when a person was charged with a capital crime. The Supreme Court ruled that state courts must provide legal counsel for all defendants who are unable to afford or procure one, due to the Fourteenth Amendment.
Over 2000 defendants were freed in Florida alone on announcement of the ruling by the Supreme Court.
Has changed many states standards on waiving the right to an attorney.
Importance Background Massiah v. United States The defendant was indicted on narcotics charges, appointed counsel, pled not guilty to the charges, and was released on bail.

Later, he was asked about his indictment and his role in the alleged crime. He gave a few incriminating statements that were picked up by a police radio-transmitter.

These statements were introduced at trial to be used against him. He was subsequently convicted on the charges.

He appealed his conviction based on the opinion that his right to counsel had been violated, and that all statements made by him without counsel were not admissable in court.

Because his conviction had been affirmed by a U.S. Court of Appeal, the case went to the Supreme Court. Majority: 6 Court Opinion Dissent: 3 The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed his conviction, holding that the statements made by the defendant, outside the presence of his attorney, were not admissible.

Held that because the Sixth Amendment grants the right to counsel for all criminal defendants, and because the statements made by the defendant were after the court had initiated the trial, the defendants rights to fair trial, and counsel were violated. This was because his counsel was not present during the saying of the statements.

Also found that deliberate elicitation had occurred, which is defined as "the intentional creation of circumstances by government agents that are likely to produce incriminating information from the defendant." This elicitation also violated the defendants right to counsel and fair trial. Held that the defendants right to counsel had not been violated because he had not be prevented from consulting counsel, he simply had not done so of his own accord. Thus the statements made by him were admissible because his rights had not been violated maliciously.

Held that the majority’s findings went beyond the intent of the constitutional protections against self-incrimination and the right to counsel.

"The intent historically has been to prevent coerced confessions. The majority’s holding now will prevent admission into evidence of any voluntary pretrial statement or confession made without counsel’s presence or consent." The Supreme Court held that the government may not elicit statements from the defendant about themselves after the point that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel "attaches". Importance "Massiah v. United States." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massiah_v._United_States>.

"Smith v. Hooey - 393 U.S. 374 (1969)." Justia US Supreme Court Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/393/374/>.

"Massiah v. United States." Massiah v. United States. N.p., 03 Mar. 1964. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0377_0201_ZO.html>.

"Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May 2012. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution>. Bibliography
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