• Oct 11, 2013

Gideon’s Promise and Peril: Meeting the Mandate for Indigent Defense

  • 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Wasserstein Hall, 2036 Milstein East, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Court ruled state courts were obligated to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who could not otherwise afford it. The logic of this unanimous decision has had far-reaching implications for the way we think about justice in the United States and held such promise to those of us dedicated to the fairness of our judicial system. On October 11th, we will gather to consider how perilous the path remains to meeting this promise.

This event is made possible in part through a generous contribution from Janet Dewart Bell in memory of Professor Derrick Bell.


9:00 – Welcome

  • David J. Harris, Managing Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice
  • Robert J. Smith, Assistant Professor of Law, UNC School of Law

9:10 – Defending Gideon

  • Selected clips from the film by the Constitution Project with brief remarks from filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School

9:30 – Post-Katrina New Orleans

  • Stephen Singer, Assistant Clinical Professor, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans

10:00 – Panel 1: Structural Reforms

  • Carol Steiker (moderator), Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  • Anthony Benedetti, Chief Counsel, Committee for Public Counsel Services
  • Robert Boruchowitz, Professor from Practice, Seattle University Law School
  • Alexandra Natapoff, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

11:00 – Video of HLS faculty Charles Ogletree and Nancy Gertner

11:30 – Firsthand Perspective of Ineffective Counsel

  • Gary Drinkard, Board member of Witness to Innocence and exonerated Alabama death row prisoner

12:00 – Lunch (provided)

  • Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, honoring Judge George N. Leighton (HLS ’46),U.S. District Court of Northern District of Illinois, retired

1:00 – Keynote address: “Defiance and Resistance to Gideon”

  • Stephen Bright, President and Senior Counsel, Southern Center for Human Rights

1:45 – A Capital Defender’s Perspective

  • Marc Bookman, Director, The Atlantic Center for Capital Representation

2:15 – Panel 2: MyGideon and Training

  • Robert J. Smith (moderator), Assistant Professor of Law, UNC School of Law
  • Cathleen Bennett, Criminal Defense Training Director, Committee for Public Counsel Services
  • Jeff Sherr, Education and Strategic Planning Manager, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy
  • Stephen Singer, Assistant Clinical Professor, Loyola University College of Law

3:15 – Role of Prosecutors’ Offices

  • Renée Hutchins, Associate Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law

3:45 – A Juvenile Defender’s Perspective

  • Dehlia Umunna, Acting Deputy Director & Clinical Instructor, Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School

4:00 – Screening of Gideon’s Army documentary

5:30 – Conversation with Gideon’s Army director Dawn Porter

  • Ronald Sullivan, Clinical Professor of Law & Director, Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School

📷 Event Photos
Conference Poster
Film Screening Poster

Event Videos:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17