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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Essay on Right to Counsel - Constitutional Law Essay

Essay on Right to Counsel

The Constitutional Mandate of the Right to Assistance of Counsel
The Sixth Amendment protects the right of the accused to have the assistance of a counsel for his defense.  Such is based on the adversarial nature of our criminal justice system.  In the adversarial system, the litigants are given opportunities to be heard and present their case before the court.  It is presumed in this system that “through the battling of two opposing sides in open court, the whole story will be uncovered, the truth will be known and justice will be served.” (“The Right to Assistance of Counsel” p.2)
The litigants are guaranteed the right to utilize every legal maneuver available in every law books and jurisprudence.  The only limitation is that the remedy must be within the bounds of the law and in accordance with the constitution and existing laws of the lands. 
It is obvious that for an accused whether he wins or loses his case will, to a large extent, depend on his lawyer.  The court proceedings and trial techniques are such that they are incomprehensible for an ordinary layman who did not have the opportunity to study the language of the law.  The proper pleadings to be filed, when to file it, where to file it and the statements contained in every pleading requires diligent research, skill and experience which can only be provided by a competent and skilled lawyer who is trained in the language of the law.  
It is because of this reason that the constitution, as a measure of social justice, requires that the every person who is being charged in court for a crime is given effective assistance by a counsel.  In the case of Powell v. Alabama 287 U.S. 45, 68 (1932), the Supreme Court said that “'the right to the aid of counsel is of this fundamental character.''
This right applies to any person which starts from the time he is considered by law enforcement officers as an accused to the time the case is filed in court until the court renders its decision.  The only difference is that during trial the court has plenary authority to require that the accused must be given a lawyer in case the accused is an indigent and he cannot afford the services of a lawyer.  This right applies to any misdemeanor case and even in case of juvenile proceedings. 
So precious is a person’s liberty that this right is available so long as there is a possibility that imprisonment may be imposed against a suspect.  In the case of Johnson v. Zerbst 304 U.S. 458, 462 (1938), the Supreme Court said that "The assistance of counsel is one of the safeguards of the Sixth Amendment deemed necessary to insure fundamental human rights of life and liberty. . . . The Sixth Amendment stands as a constant admonition that if the constitutional safeguards it provides be lost, justice will not `still be done.”
In cases therefore where trial proceeded notwithstanding the absence of a competent and effective counsel to render assistance to the accused, the appellate court may render the proceedings in the lower court null and avoid on the ground of violation of the Sixth Amendment. 

Application to Brandon’s Appeal
In this regard, Brandon’s appeal should be given due course by the appellate court.  The constitution clearly provides for the right of an accused to be provided with a counsel during his trial.  The lack of funds which is the lower court’s justification for not providing Brandon with a competent counsel is not a sufficient justification to deny an accused of the right to be represented by a counsel. 

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