By Shannon Alvino
Shannon Alvino is a junior at The George Washington University majoring in Political Science and Criminal Justice.
As soon as the Framers put down their pens and stumbled into the Philadelphia sunlight, our national government has been compartmentalized into three branches, each engaged in a delicate dance guided by a system of checks and balances enumerated in that governing document. One facet of this mutable tension is in courts’ power of judicial review, put forth in the seminal Marbury v. Madison decision.
By Shannon Alvino
Shannon Alvino is a junior at The George Washington University majoring in Political Science and Criminal Justice
The United States Supreme Court has entertained an eight-decades-long complicated relationship with the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel. Here is an overview:
· Powell v. Alabama (1932) required that trial courts appoint legal representation in capital cases “where the defendant is unable to employ counsel, and is incapable of making his own defense because of ignorance, feeble mindedness, illiteracy, or the like.”
· Johnson v. Zerbst (1938) lengthened the guarantee to any defendant facing federal criminal charges.
· Betts v. Brady (1942) declined to extend the right to indigent defendants in all criminal cases; counsel was appointed only when failure to do so would be “offensive to the common and fundamental ideas of fairness.”
· Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) firmly established indigent defendants’ Sixth Amendment privileges, labeling counsel “fundamental and essential to fair trials.” Due process demanded that states conform to this federal interpretation, overruling Betts and entrenching notions of fairness.
· United States v. Wade (1967) reasoned that “today’s law enforcement machinery involves critical confrontations” that trigger the Sixth Amendment, including post-indictment lineups.
· Kirby v. Illinois (1972) specified a “critical stage” as any instance after the initiation of formal adversarial proceedings. Custodial interrogations, post-indictment corporeal lineups, preliminary hearings, arraignments, trials, sentencing hearings, and first appeals constitute “critical stages.”
· Argersinger v. Hamlin (1972) announced “absent a knowing and intelligent waiver, no person may be imprisoned for any offense, whether classified as petty, misdemeanor, or felony, unless he was represented by counsel at trial.”
· Scott v. Illinois (1979) argued convicted individuals could be incarcerated only if they received legal assistance. If the defendant is not sentenced to “actual imprisonment,” even if the applicable law allows for it, the Sixth Amendment does not apply.
· Strickland v. Washington (1984) created a standard for the resolution of ineffective counsel claims. The first prong assesses attorney performance, requiring the defendant to “show that counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.” The second prong hinges on prejudice; a defendant must demonstrate “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”
By Shannon Alvino
Shannon Alvino is a junior at The George Washington University studying Political Science and Criminal Justice.
Enigmatic personalities have long occupied the nine seats before the regal red curtain, from the “savagely sarcastic” Justice James McReynolds who physically turned his back on women arguing before the Court and used a servant in lieu of a bird dog while hunting  to the RV-piloting, stare decisis-shirking “nut,” Justice Clarence Thomas.  No justice, however, has confounded the executive branch, his colleagues, and the public more than Justice David Hackett Souter, the infamous Republican apostate.