Sign Up


Sign In


  • study guides
  • lesson plans
  • bios
  • essays
  • homework help
  • Blog
  • Sign In


Get Gideon’s Trumpet from
View the Study Pack
View the Lesson Plans
Study Guide

Gideon’s Trumpet Summary & Study Guide

Anthony Lewis
This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more –
everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gideon’s Trumpet.

Buy and print the GideonPrint

Buy and download the GideonWord

Buy and download the GideonPDF

Tweet about the Gideon

Email the Gideon
Share the Gideon

This section contains 659 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

View a FREE sample
Buy the Gideon

Gideon’s Trumpet Summary & Study Guide Description

Gideon’s Trumpet Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to
help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

  • Plot Summary
  • Chapters
  • Characters
  • Objects/Places
  • Themes
  • Style
  • Quotes

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on
Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis.

Clarence Earl Gideon is a fifty-one-year-old white man from the South who believes that he was denied due process of the law because he was not assigned an attorney during his trial in the early 1960s. Gideon, holding to the idea that the Constitution assured him of that right, files a petition with the United States Supreme Court. In fact, the trial courts on the state level are grappling with the question of when a petitioner is to have an attorney. The Gideon case will answer that question once and for all.

The courts are working off a twenty-year-old Supreme Court decision, Betts vs. Brady. In this case, the Justices of the Supreme Court upheld the decision of a lower court by saying that a farmer named Smith Betts of Maryland had not been entitled to an attorney at the time of his trial for robbery. In Maryland, the practice at the time was to appoint an attorney for a person too poor to hire one on his own, but only when he was charged with rape or murder. With that decision, the Supreme Court set a precedent that the defendant of a lesser crime was not entitled to a court-appointed attorney. Then emerged the “special cases” rule that required the appointment of an attorney if the defendant were illiterate, ignorant, suffering a mental disease or facing a complicated case. One of the biggest problems of that special rule is that a person who is not intelligent enough to handle his own trial is also not likely to be able to file an appeal. It’s a circuitous issue – the unlearned man who isn’t appointed an attorney probably isn’t able to file the paperwork for his appeal to argue that he should have had one. Gideon is the exception and it’s by sheer tenacity that he succeeds in filing his appeal with the Supreme Court in keeping with their rules.

It’s important to understand the social and legal climate of the day. Many appeals are filed on the right to counsel issue, and the Supreme Court has generally agreed with the petitioner prompting retrials in a number of cases. The fact that the Supreme Court can’t seem to draw any clear rule on the issue means that lower court outcomes are often overturned. There’s a friction between the Supreme and lower courts over the issue and lack of direction. In addition, the United States has seen the results of a racial dictator gone mad in Hitler’s persecution of the Jews and the American people are leaning toward the rights of an individual over the rights of the government. Finally, there has been ongoing discussion of federalism vs. states’ rights with some people holding to the idea that the states should have the right to determine how to handle their own criminal court system.

When the time comes for state attorneys to make a statement on the issue, the majority who speak out are in favor of the rule that all felony cases are to be assigned an attorney. The rights of the individual, they say, should outweigh the rights of the government. Not only that, but some argue that the fact that a defendant has an attorney of his own means fewer overturns on appeal and that the legal system is more likely to get at the truth of the case with two competent lawyers meeting in the courtroom.

Gideon himself is granted a new trial on his argument that he should have had an attorney. He makes his selection from a local lawyer who is familiar with the area and Gideon is found “not guilt” of robbing a poolroom in Florida. Asked if he thought he’d accomplished something, Gideon notes that he certainly did. The requirement for all defendants to be given an attorney was soon accepted in every state though each of the states established its own way of handling the case loads.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 659 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

View a FREE sample
Buy the Gideon
More summaries and resources for teaching or studying Gideon’s Trumpet .

Browse all BookRags Study Guides.

Gideon’s Trumpet from BookRags. (c)2018 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.

Follow Us on Facebook

About BookRags |
Customer Service |
Terms of Service |
Privacy Policy     



  • Movies ,
    & Showtimes

    Безумный Макс: Дорога ярости

    #203 on IMDb Top Rated Movies

    • In Theaters
    • Showtimes & Tickets
    • Latest Trailers
    • Coming Soon
    • Release Calendar
    • Top Rated Movies
    • Top Rated Indian Movies
    • Most Popular Movies
    • Box Office
    • Oscar Winners
    • Most Popular by Genre
    TV & VIDEO
    • IMDb TV
    • Top Rated TV Shows
    • Most Popular TV Shows
    • DVD & Blu-Ray
    • Amazon Originals
    • Summer Movie Guide
    • Horror Guide
    • IMDb Picks
    • Family
    • Video Games
    • Marvel

  • Celebs ,
    & Photos

    Jennifer Lawrence

    #99 on STARmeter

    • Born Today
    • Celebrity News
    • Most Popular Celebs
    • Latest Stills
    • Latest Posters
    • Photos We Love
    • Awards Central
    • Festival Central
    • Oscars
    • Golden Globes
    • Sundance
    • Cannes
    • Comic-Con
    • Emmy Awards
    • Venice Film Festival
    • Toronto Film Festival
    • Tribeca
    • SXSW
    • All Events

  • News &

    • ReFrame, IMDbPro Announce 22 Newly Certified Gender-Balanced Films

      18 hours ago
    • Woody Allen Reportedly Taking A Break From Filmmaking For The First Time In Decades

      18 hours ago
      The Playlist
    • Matt Smith joins the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX for a key role

      17 hours ago

    • Top News
    • Movie News
    • TV News
    • Celebrity News
    • Indie News
    • Contributor Zone
    • Polls

  • Watchlist

  • IMDbPro Menu

    Go to IMDbPro
    The leading information resource for the entertainment industry

    Find industry contacts & talent representation

    Manage your photos, credits, & more

    Showcase yourself on IMDb & Amazon

    Go to IMDbPro

  • |
  • Help

  • Sign in with Facebook
    Other Sign in options


Gideon's Trumpet (TV Movie 1980) - Plot Summary Poster

Gideon’s Trumpet
(1980 TV Movie)


Showing all 2 items
Jump to:

  • Summaries


  • True story of Clarence Gideon’s fight to be appointed counsel at the expense of the state. This landmark case led to the Supreme Court’s decision which extended this right to all criminal defendants.

    — Steve Walker <[email protected]>
  • The story of Clarence Earl Gideon and his fight for the right to have publicly funded legal counsel for the needy.

    — Kenneth Chisholm


  • It looks like we don’t have a Synopsis for this title yet.
    Be the first to contribute! Just click the “Edit page” button at the bottom of the page or learn more in the Synopsis submission guide .

See also



Plot Keywords

Parents Guide

Getting Started
Contributor Zone  »

Contribute to This Page

ad feedback