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Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis, Book Review Example

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Book Review

About the Author

            Known as a public intellectual and a journalist, Anthony Lewis is among the most priced writers who have tried to explore the different factions of legal policies in the United States. Starting at an early age, Lewis was fond of completing researches that are expected to provide a much defined pattern that constitutes the development from then until the current years. Considerably, his works have been remarkably noted as helpful in creating a proper definition on the developments of the legal systems in the United States, which has also specifically made a great impact on how the world recognized several legal policies especially regarding the need to support the situation of the less fortunate members of the community.

Celebrated for his command on the subjects he discusses, most of his works are basically considered as the basis of the common criticisms with regards legal matters that define the capacity of the American society to support the legal needs of their people. Working with New York Times for the most of this life’s career in writing, Lewis’ works have been relatively recognized especially in consideration with the advancements he imposes in relation to how modern legal matters could be adjusted for the sake of the greater members of the American population.

About the Book

            Gideon’s Trumpet is basically a presentation of facts and events with regards that of the case between Gideon and Wainwright. This particular case was considered as a turn of situations that redefined the patter by which the American justice system is considered especially for those who cannot specifically pay for the services that the court provides. Utilizing the last name of the defendant ‘Gideon’, the title of the book is also considered a play of conditions involving the connection of the turn of events in the case in relation to that of the situation that occurred in the bible’s record involving Gideon and his small army of 300 that won in a battle against the Canaanites. Relatively, the situation of Clarence Earl Gideon was close to that of the bible’s account on Gideon as he fought towards the war that was seemingly impossible for him and his army. Nevertheless, his defense, which was dependent on the power of the almighty protector, made his and his army’s fight successful. The defense of Clarence Earl Gideon was more dependent on the manner by which the supreme court accepted the need to hear about his rights to being represented in the case as the hearing is completed.

Chapter Summaries

            Chapter 1:

            The first chapter specifically presents how Gideon was considered a pauper during the time he was presented in court. In forma pauper was a petition that specifically exempts the plaintiffs from paying the normal fees relating to legal assistance. Under this particular clause of the law, a person who is impoverished is given the chance to pass on a petition without paying any fees. The petition to be made by the plaintiff need not be legally assisted by anyone, it shall be accepted [even with the existence of particular grammatical errors] so long as the presentation does make a point in relation to the case being heard and it does comply with the substance that must be included within the petition’s documented presentation.

In this primary chapter, Lewis made it a point that Gideon’s efforts to provide the necessary information needed in the petition were recognized properly. Written in pencil, his petition was presented by Lewis as rather a document that was as simple as possible yet was still considered an effective presentation of his request due to the copy of habeas corpus petition that he included within the document. A man at his 50’s, Gideon’s writing was considered by Lewis as destitute. Basing from Lewis’ personal distinction of who Gideon was, he notes that if the petition was to be used as a basis of profiling the plaintiff, it would define that the man is not violent, but rather a person who was having a hard time making a living and establishing a good life for him and his family. In the petition, Gideon stipulated that he was first convicted of breaking and entering into the Bay Harbor Poolroom in Panama City. He was hoping though that such conviction be reverted. This was a relatively huge request which Gideon evidently did not realize because of his state of simple-minded thinking.

            Chapter 2:

            The second chapter provides of the distinction of the court as an institution that creates a definition of what legal rules and policies should be about. In this chapter, Lewis then tries to explain how the court handles the need to define the condition of cases and specifically utilize the different elements that make up a specific case. In consideration to this, Lewis makes it a point to define the conditions of the court according to words that a layman like Gideon would be able to understand. Still using Gideon’s case as the basis of this chapter’s discussion, Lewis was able to make a distinctive instruction that would easily provide the writers with the best source of understanding that the public would best be able to comprehend with.

            Chapter 3:

            In this section of his discussion, Lewis outlines the different procedures considered by he court as they decide which case to pass on for hearing and which others would be considered as ‘dead cases’ or cases that do not need hearing anymore. It provides a basic source of understanding how the petition of Gideon changed a huge part of how the court recognizes the importance of reaction from the plaintiff and the other individuals who are involved in the cases that they pursue to push for hearing. Here, Gideon’s petition was regarded to be a bold and yet important move in relation to his part as the plaintiff in a case. Exercising his right to respond to a case he is being accused with, Gideon tried his best to make sure that the court does its duty of protecting the rights of the people, even on the part of the impoverished ones.

            Chapter 4:

            Lewis discusses in this chapter the appointment of a counsel to support Gideon’s part in relation to the case being heard. Considered as crème de la crème, the counsel that represented Gideon in the case is noted to be best in the job. At this point though, he is giving his service for free and simply responds to his duty of protecting the rights of the people. Fortas, the counsel assigned to assist Gideon and represent him in court, was described by Lewis as one of the best in the job.

Chapter 5:

            Herein, Lewis gives an overview of how Gideon was seemingly not knowledgeable about the conditions and systems of the court. Nevertheless, his desire to get the justice he deserves pushed him to get on the wagon, even without having the ample knowledge he needs. People who are impoverished like him do have the same rights as to that with those who are capable of paying for a representation in court, and this is what Gideon made sure would happen.

            Chapter 6:

            This chapter gives clear definition on how the court considers different judicial methods to pursue particular cases. The competition between intellectual decision against the popularity of particular legislations have been described by Lewis as a particular source of specific debate in court especially in relation to deciding on which rule to follow. This has been further described by Lewis through defining the procedure assumed by Frankfurter and Black in relation to the case of Gideon.

            Chapter 7:

            To make it easier for the reader to get involved in the process of seeing how Gideon fares in consideration with the case being accused of him, this chapter provides a clear indication on who Gideon was. It provides a first-hand information on who Clarence Earl Gideon was, what he did and how he has come into a situation that involved him in a criminal case.

            Chapter 8:

            Hoping to make an outline on the development on the issue of providing counsel for the impoverished and the indigents Lewis presents the different cases that involve the relative process of choosing the relative representation that they need to be able to face the court. Relating cases such as that of Johnson v. Zerbst, Betts v. Brady and Powell v. Alabama, he considers that Gideon’s move to be the boldest and likely the most affective in changing the face of the American social system.

            Chapter 9 and 10: 

            In this section Lewis presents how it is advantageous for a person to be represented by a legal professional. He insists that the need to be represented by someone who knows the law serves as a great source of protection and defense that provides a good sense of definition on how justice could be provided even for those who are less fortunate.

            Chapter 11 and 12:

This chapter gives a distinctive description and detail on how the presentation of arguments for the case of Gideon has been considered. Here he indicates the different procedures taken into consideration to finalize the writing of the final judgment on the case of Gideon. The opinion of the court to the Gideon v Wainwright case is also represented in this section in relation to the final writing issued by Justice Black.

            Chapter 13 and 14:

            Here, Lewis provides his own opinion on the matter. Having a proper command on the legalities of the American society, it could be considered that his opinion on the matter is specifically helpful in defining how the case of Gideon actually changed the situation of court hearings in the country since the 1960’s. He finalizes his book through collecting the different implications of the cases he used as reference to the discussions he has given in his book.

Implications of the Reading

            It could be noted that the reading provided by Lewis is as valuable as that of his other written works. At this point though, his opinionated views of the matter, especially relating to his experiences makes this reading specifically helpful in outlining the most important points of developments in the legal systems that the American society recognizes. In this case, it could be considered that this book by Lewis on the case of Gideon gives a distinctive representation on how he actually sees the situation to have been the stepping stone of the most important adjustments in the way the legal systems of America recognizes the rights even of the impoverished members of the society especially in receiving a representation in court.

Recommendations

For individuals or students having the desire to know more about the advancements of the modern legal systems of America based from the changes of the 1960’s, this book is a good read that would specifically provide good and helpful information regarding the matter. This book is especially helpful even for the needs of the individuals who would like to know more about the case in layman’s terminologies. The simple approach of Lewis in defining the aspects of court and the legal forms of procedures considered in the case of Gideon makes this reading very helpful especially when it comes to creating a connection between how simple individuals like Gideon has made one of the most important turn of events in the field of the American court.

The command of Lewis in this field of writing makes his presentation more valuable and helpful in making ordinary people realize the importance of having the capacity to provide petition, which Gideon used to make sure that his rights are recognized by the court. Having the desire to clean his name, Gideon actually made it simple in presenting that the right of people should be recognized equally by the court regardless of their race, their economic condition and their individual being.

Reference:

Anthony Lewis, Gideon’s Trumpet. New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1964.

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