Historic Markers Across Florida

The Gideon Versus Wainwright Case

Marker ID: FLHM F- 479
County: Bay
Coordinates: N 30° 09.288    W 085° 39.464
  30.1548    -85.65773333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM8QNC


This is the site of the landmark Gideon case, after which the Public Defender system was established in Florida and throughout the nation. In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon (1910-1972) stood trial in this courthouse for the felony of burglary. Lacking funds to hire a lawyer, Gideon requested that a lawyer be appointed to represent him at trial. Gideon´s request was denied, because at that time, a person accused of a non-capital felony did not have a constitutional right to a free lawyer. Gideon represented himself at his trial and was convicted. While serving his five-year prison sentence, Gideon petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review his case. The Supreme Court issued its decision in 1963 in Gideon v. Wainwright, ruling that every poor person charged with a serious crime in this country must be provided a lawyer for his defense at public expense. Panama City attorney, W. Fred Turner (b. 1922) represented Gideon at his retrial and won an acquittal. Built in 1914, this building is one of only a few original courthouses in Florida still being used for its original purpose. A fire in 1920 gutted the building, but it was immediately rebuilt in its Classic Revival architectural style. Sponsors: The Historical Society Of Bay County and the Florida Department of State


City: Panama City, FL