Reclaiming Our Rightful Place: Reviving the Hero Image of the Public Defender

12 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014 Last revised: 16 Jul 2014

See all articles by Jonathan Rapping

Jonathan Rapping

Atlanta's John Marshall Law School

Date Written: July 14, 2014


This keynote address at the Iowa Law Review symposium celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright examines the right to counsel over the past century and how the public defender has gone from being viewed as the engine necessary to ensure equal justice to a role worthy of little respect. It suggests that the decline in value placed on the role of the public defender accompanied the dehumanization of those viewed as outside the law. As society demonized those accused of crime, it lost respect for advocates for the accused. The result has been a criminal justice system that has become accustomed to processing people rather than ensuring the representation demanded by the Sixth Amendment. It concludes that public defenders must lead the charge to reinject humanity into the criminal justice system and awaken society to the need to demand that we live up to the ideals set forth in the Gideon decision.

Suggested Citation

Rapping, Jonathan, Reclaiming Our Rightful Place: Reviving the Hero Image of the Public Defender (July 14, 2014). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 99, 2014, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Rapping (Contact Author)

Atlanta's John Marshall Law School ( email )

1422 West Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30331
United States

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