On April 13, 1942, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Betts v. Brady. The question presented was– did the State of Maryland have a constitutional duty to appoint legal counsel to assist an indigent defendant indicted for robbery. On June 1, 1942, the Court held that it didn’t.
Justice Roberts, who delivered the opinion of the Court, explained–“As we have said, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the conviction and incarceration of one whose trial is offensive to the common and fundamental ideas of fairness and right, and while want of counsel in a particular case may result in a conviction lacking in such fundamental fairness, we cannot say that the amendment embodies an inexorable command that no trial for any offense, or in any court, can be fairly conducted and justice accorded a defendant who is not represented by counsel.” Read the entire decision at https://goo.gl/fqejvL. Notably, the Supreme Court overruled this decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. Learn more at http://goo.gl/wNoo4W.