Clarence Earl Gideon

Photo added by Paul Auger

Clarence Earl Gideon

  • Birth 30 Aug 1910 Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri, USA
  • Death 18 Jan 1972 Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida, USA
  • Burial Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri, USA
  • Plot Sec 3 Lot 125
  • Memorial ID 43334962

Appellant in historic Supreme Court case. Played by Henry Fonda in the movie, "Gideon's Trumpet." On June 3, 1961, someone stole a few bottles of beer and soda pop and about $5 in coins (out of the jukebox and cigarette machine) from the Bay Harbor Pool Room in Bay Harbor, Florida. Henry Cook, a 22-year-old who lived near that combination pool hall and beer joint, told the police he had seen Clarence Gideon come out of it with a bottle of wine (and his pockets full of coins) and leave in a taxicab. The police found Gideon, who had an extensive criminal record, in a bar in Panama City, Florida, with $25.28 in his pockets, all in coins, which Gideon said he had won in "penny ante" card games, but he was formally charged with breaking and entering the pool room with the intent to commit larceny. When he appeared for his trial, Gideon told Judge Robert McCrary, Jr., that he needed for the court to appoint a lawyer to defend him, but the judge said the law did not provide for that, so Gideon went to trial representing himself. The jury convicted him, and on August 27, 1961, McCrary sentenced him to five years in prison. Gideon, with an 8th-grade education, studied law behind bars and hand-wrote a five-page appeal to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear his case. The court ruled 9-0 in his favor, establishing a major due-process right for defendants in criminal cases: the right to have the court appoint counsel to represent them if they cannot afford to hire private attorneys. Gideon won the right for a retrial and was acquitted. When Gideon died, in Florida in 1972, he was still broke, and his relatives buried him in an unmarked grave in his childhood hometown in Missouri. In 1984 the local A.C.L.U. affiliate placed a tombstone on his grave.


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  • Created by: Paul Auger
  • Added: 20 Oct 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 43334962
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Clarence Earl Gideon (30 Aug 1910–18 Jan 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 43334962, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Paul Auger (contributor 41358771) .