The three cases that I’ve chosen for analysis are Gideon v. Wainwright, Hurtado v. California, and Williams v. Florida. Each of these cases had a meaning for the general criminal law and also affected the procedures and practices of law enforcement.
The case of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) can be considered as a landmark in the history of U.S. Supreme Court. After this case, the Supreme Court required the state courts to provide counsel for those defendants who were unable to hire an attorney themselves. Before this case, counseling was only provided if the defendant was charged with a capital offense. Gideon managed to prove that this approach violated the Sixth Amendment. This case caused a significant change in court practices: instead of the “fair trial” system there appeared a system of procedural guarantees. This case also helped to improve the practices and standards of stare decisis. The institute of public defenders has been created as a result of this case, with a variety of training programs, experience requirements and caseload levels.
The second case, Hurtado v. California (1884), affected the rules for using grand juries in indictment. The problem of this case was the suggested violation of the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause related to criminal proceeding based not on the grand jury indictment, but on the information on the incident. Such approach was not considered as a legal proceeding equally protecting liberty and justice, since the Fifth Amendment contains both the guarantee of due process and of grand jury proceedings. After this case, the majority of the states have replaced the requirement for grand juries by preliminary hearings and/or analysis of available case information.
Finally, the case of Williams v. Florida (1970) further changed the court practices: it was decided that providing details of alibi witnesses of the defendant does not violate the regulations of the Fifth Amendment. Also, it was decided that the Sixth Amendment does not require to have strictly 12 members of jury. The decision of the court stated that Florida notice of alibi was not a violation of the Fifth Amendment, and the prosecution obtained this information before the trial, without getting any more information about the defendant which could be used against him or her. It was also decided that the jury could consist of 6 jurors as well as of twelve. Overall, these three cases changed the practices and procedures of the court, and allowed both the defendants and the prosecution to use more effective methods of reaching the justice.
Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)
Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 (1884)
Williams v. Florida 399 U.S. 78 (1970)