Category Archives: Anniversary

Clarence Earl Gideon

Clarence Earl Gideon

Difficult start

Clarence Earl Gideon was born in Hannibal, Missouri on August 30, 1910. His father died when Clarence was three. His mother remarried, but Clarence and his step father did not get along.

When he was 14, Clarence ran away for a year.

Back in Missouri, but not with his mother, he stole clothes, got caught, and his mother asked to have him put into a reformatory.

He was released after a year and had the scars to prove the mistreatment he received there.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Continued hard times

Gideon married and got a job in a shoe factory.  He lost his job and after committing a number of crimes in Missouri was sentenced to ten years for robbery.

He was paroled but continued to run afoul the law.  According to an article in the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, “In 1934, he was convicted of theft of U.S. government property and conspiracy and sentenced to three years in Fort Leavenworth, where he was assigned to the shoe factory. In 1939, he was arrested on an unknown charge and again escaped from jail before trial. In 1940, he was convicted of burglary and larceny and sentenced as a repeat offender. In 1943, he escaped from prison and went to work on the Southern Pacific Railroad as a brakeman, using an assumed name and forged Selective Service card. The following year he was arrested on a tip, convicted of escape, and imprisoned until January 1950. In 1951, he was convicted of an unspecified crime in Texas and served 13 months.”

Clarence Earl Gideon

Bay Harbor Pool RoomClarence Earl Gideon

Gideon moved to Florida. On June 3, 1961, $5 in change and a few bottles of beer and soda were stolen from Bay Harbor Pool Room (Panama, FL), a pool hall that belonged to Ira Strickland, Jr.

Henry Cook, a 22-year-old resident who lived nearby, told the police that he had seen Clarence Earl Gideon walk out of the hall with a bottle of wine and his pockets filled with coins and then get into a cab and leave. Gideon was arrested in a tavern.

August 4, 1961:  being too poor to pay for counsel,  Gideon requested that the court appoint one.  Because of his extensive criminal record, he was familiar with that practice.

Robert McCrary, Jr, the trial judge, denied the request stating that in Florida a defendant was entitled to a court-appointed defense only in capital offense trials.

Though Gideon was mistaken is his assumption that he was entitled to a court-appointed lawyer, McCrary was also mistaken in that he could have, had he decided, appointed a lawyer.

Defending himself,  Gideon was tried and convicted of breaking and entering with intent to commit petty larceny.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Sentenced to 5 years

August 25, 1961: five days before his 51st birthday, McCrary sentenced Gideon to the maximum sentence: five years in prison.

Gideon appealed his conviction to the Florida Supreme Court. That court denied his appeal.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Supreme Court petition

Clarence Earl Gideon
This is the first page of Gideon’s handwritten petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gideon mailed a five-page hand-printed petition to the US Supreme Court asking the nine justices to consider his complaint.

It is often discussed whether, despite his familiarity with the justice system, Gideon could have written the petition himself.  Some have suggested that Gideon’s cellmate, Joseph A. Peel Jr, a lawyer and judge serving time for murder, had assisted Gideon.

January 5, 1962:  Whatever the circumstances, the Supreme Court, in reply, agreed to hear his appeal. Originally, the case was called Gideon v. Cochran.

January 15,  1963:  the Gideon v. Cochran case was argued at the US Supreme Court. Abe Fortas was assigned to represent Gideon. Bruce Jacob, the Assistant Florida Attorney General, was assigned to argue against Gideon.

Fortas argued (a recording of Fortas’s argument can be heard via the Oyez site)  that a common man with no training in law could not go up against a trained lawyer and win, and that “you cannot have a fair trial without counsel.”

Jacob argued that the issue at hand was a state issue, not federal; the practice of only appointing counsel under “special circumstances” in non-capital cases sufficed; that thousands of convictions would have to be thrown out if it were changed; and that Florida had followed for 21 years “in good faith” the 1942 Supreme Court ruling in Betts v. Brady.

The case’s original title, Gideon v. Cochran, was changed to Gideon v. Wainwright after Louie L. Wainwright replaced H. G. Cochran as the director of the Florida Division of Corrections. (NYT abstract)

Clarence Earl Gideon

Supreme court  decision

March 18, 1963: the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that, The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a fundamental right applied to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause, and requires that indigent criminal defendants be provided counsel at trial. Supreme Court of Florida reversed.

In other words, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that those accused of a crime have a constitutional right to a lawyer whether or not they can afford one.

About 2,000 convicted people in Florida alone were freed as a result of the Gideon decision; Gideon himself was not freed. He instead got another trial. (NYT article)

Clarence Earl Gideon

Gideon’s retrial

August 5, 1963: Gideon had chosen W. Fred Turner to be his lawyer for his second trial. Turner picked apart the testimony of eyewitness Henry Cook. Turner also got a statement from the cab driver who took Gideon from Bay Harbor, Florida to a bar in Panama City, Florida, stating that Gideon was carrying neither wine, beer nor Coke when he picked him up, even though Cook had testified that he watched Gideon walk from the pool hall to the phone, then wait for a cab.

Furthermore, although in the first trial Gideon had not cross-examined the cab driver about his statement that Gideon had told him to keep the taxi ride a secret, Turner’s cross-examination revealed that Gideon had said that to the cab driver previously because “he had trouble with his wife.”

The jury acquitted Gideon after one hour of deliberation.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Attorney General Robert Kennedy

November 1, 1963: in a speech before The New England Conference on the Defense of Indigent Persons Accused of Crime, Attorney General Robert Kennedy stated: “If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in prison with a pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme Court, and if the Supreme Court had not taken the trouble to look for merit in that one crude petition among all the bundles of mail it must receive every day, the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed.”

Clarence Earl Gideon

Gideon’s Trumpet

Clarence Earl Gideon

January 28, 1964,: the publication of Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis. The book provided history of Gideon’s landmark case.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Aftermath

January 18, 1972: after his acquittal, Gideon resumed his previous way of life and married again. He died of cancer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at age 61. Gideon’s family in Missouri accepted his body and buried him in an unmarked grave.

Clarence Earl Gideon

April 30, 1980: made for TV movie and a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Gideon’s Trumpet, aired on CBS. The moved starred Henry Fonda as Clarence Earl Gideon, José Ferrer as Abe Fortas and John Houseman as Earl Warren (though Warren’s name was never mentioned in the film; he was billed simply as “The Chief Justice”). Houseman also provided the off screen closing narration at the end of the film. Lewis himself appeared in a small role as “The Reporter”.

Clarence Earl Gideon

November 1984 The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union added a granite headstone, inscribed with a quote from a letter Gideon wrote to his attorney, Abe Fortas: “I believe that each era finds an improvement in law for the benefit of mankind.”

Clarence Earl Gideon

Law v reality

March 16, 2013: approaching the 50th anniversary of  Gideon v. Wainwright, a NYT article stated, the Legal Services Corporation, the Congressionally financed organization that provides lawyers to the poor in civil matters, says there are more than 60 million Americans — 35 percent more than in 2005 — who qualify for its services. But it calculates that 80 percent of the legal needs of the poor go unmet. In state after state, according to a survey of trial judges, more people are now representing themselves in court and they are failing to present necessary evidence, committing procedural errors and poorly examining witnesses, all while new lawyers remain unemployed… According to the World Justice Project, a nonprofit group promoting the rule of law that got its start through the American Bar Association, the United States ranks 66th out of 98 countries in access to and affordability of civil legal services.

Clarence Earl Gideon
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Remembering Ryan White

Remembering Ryan White

AIDS

Whatever the decade, whatever the century, the media provide us with what they think we are interested in, with what we buy, and tell us what we should be interested in.

AIDS was first clinically observed in 1981 in the United States. The medical community noted it in intravenous drug uses and gay men.

That being the case, it was easy for a society marked by homophobia to discount the illness’s fatal effects or describe it as divine retribution.

We ignored AIDS; so did most media.

Remembering Ryan White

Ryan White

Remembering Ryan White

Ryan White was born on December 9, 1971, at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Kokomo, Indiana to Jeanne Elaine Hale and Hubert Wayne White. When he was 3 days old, doctors diagnosed White with severe Hemophilia A.

For treatment, he received weekly infusions of Factor VIII, a blood product created from pooled plasma of non-hemophiliacs, an common treatment for hemophiliacs at the time

Remembering Ryan White

13 Years Later

In late 1984, Ryan White came down with pneumonia and on December 17  during a lung biopsy procedure, doctors diagnosed him  with AIDS.  His prognosis was he had six months to live. He remained home for the rest of that school year.

Meanwhile research into the disease continued. On March 2, 1985, the federal government approved a screening test for AIDS that detected antibodies to the virus, allowing possibly contaminated blood to be excluded from the blood supply. (NYT article)

Remembering Ryan White

Kept out of school

Despite feeling strong enough to return to school, on June 30, 1985 Western School Corporation Superintendent James O. Smith,  denied White admittance. Smith said it was for everyone else’s own protection. Whites’ parents challenged the decision.

On the first day of school, August 26, 1985,  Ryan listened to his classes via telephone. 117 parents (from a school of 360 total students) and 50 teachers signed a petition encouraging school leaders to ban White from school. On October 2 the school principal upheld the decision to keep White out of school, but on November 25, the Indiana Department of Education (DOE) ruled that the district must admit him.

The school board voted 7–0 to appeal Indiana Department of Education ruling. (December 17), but on February 6, 1986 the Indiana DOE again ruled White can attend school.

Remembering Ryan White

Ignore scientific evidence

Remembering Ryan White

Much evidence supported the DOE’s decision. That month the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of 101 people who had spent three months living in close but non-sexual contact with people with AIDS. The study concluded that the risk of infection was “minimal to nonexistent,” even when contact included sharing toothbrushes, razors, clothing, combs and drinking glasses; sleeping in the same bed; and hugging and kissing.

On February 13, 1986 the Howard County health officer determined White was fit for school (NYT article); on February 19 Howard County judge refused to issue an injunction against White and on February 21, 1986 he  returned to school.  A different judge granted a restraining order that afternoon to again bar him. (NYT article)

Remembering Ryan White

Continued opposition

In March 1986 White’s opponents held an auction in the school gymnasium to raise money to keep White out.

On April 9, 1986: White’s case was presented in U.S. Circuit Court and the next day Judge Jack R. O’Neill dissolved the February 21 restraining order. (NYT article)

White returned to school. Again.

When White was finally readmitted, a group of families withdrew their children and started an alternative school. Threats of violence and lawsuits persisted. According to White’s mother, people on the street would often yell, “we know you’re queer” at Ryan.

Before the next school year began, on July 18, 1986, the Indiana Court of Appeals declined to hear any further appeals in the White case.

Remembering Ryan White

Harrased 

White attended Western Middle School for eighth grade for the entire 1986–87 school year, but was deeply unhappy and had few friends. In 1988 White would speak before President Reagan’s AIDS Commission. At it he would state:

Even though we knew AIDS was not spread through casual contact. Nevertheless, parents of twenty students started their own school. They were still not convinced. Because of the lack of education on AIDS, discrimination, fear, panic, and lies surrounded me:

  • I became the target of Ryan White jokes
  • Lies about me biting people
  • Lies about me spitting on vegetables and cookies
  • Lies about me urinating on bathroom walls
  • Some restaurants threw away my dishes
  • My school locker was vandalized inside and folders were marked FAG and other obscenities.

I was labeled a troublemaker, my mom an unfit mother, and I was not welcome anywhere. People would get up and  leave so they would not have to sit anywhere near me. Even at church, people would not shake my hand. (entire text)

Threats continued. After someone fired a bullet through the Whites’ living room window, the family decided to move.

By this time the story had become an international one. Elton John loaned $16,500 to put toward a down payment on a new home in Cicero, Indiana.

Remembering Ryan White

Cicero

On August 31, 1987 White enrolled at Hamilton Heights High School, Cicero, Indiana. The school principal Tony Cook, school system superintendent Bob G. Carnal, and students who had been educated about AIDS greeted him and shook his hand. (NYT article)

He drove to school in a red Mustang convertible, a gift from Michael Jackson.

On March 29, 1990. spring of his senior year, White entered Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis with a respiratory infection and on  April 8, 1990 White died. (2016 PBS article on White)

Remembering Ryan White

Funeral

On April 11, over 1,500 people attended White’s funeral at the Second Presbyterian Church on in Indianapolis.  White’s pallbearers included Elton John, Howie Long and Phil Donahue. Elton John performed “Skyline Pigeon” at the funeral. Also attending was Michael Jackson and First Lady Barbara Bush. On the day of the funeral, former President Ronald Reagan wrote a tribute to White that appeared in The Washington Post. In part Reagan said:

“We owe it to Ryan to make sure that the fear and ignorance that chased him from his home and his school will be eliminated. We owe it to Ryan to open our hearts and our minds to those with AIDS. We owe it to Ryan to be compassionate, caring and tolerant toward those with AIDS, their families and friends. It’s the disease that’s frightening, not the people who have it.” [Full text]

Remembering Ryan White

Gravesite

His family buried him in Cicero.

In the year following his death, his grave was vandalized on four occasions.

Remembering Ryan White

Legacy

Rather than accept repayment Sir Elton placed the repaid money into a college fund for Ryan’s sister.

On August 18, 1990 President George Bush signed the Ryan White Care Act, a federally funded program for people living with AIDS.

On May 20, 1996 Congress reauthorized the Ryan White CARE Act.

On October 30, 2009 President Obama signed The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. Obama  announced plans to remove a ban on travel and immigration to the U.S. by individuals with HIV. Obama called the 22-year ban a decision “rooted in fear rather than fact.”

For complete information about the Ryan White CARES Act visit: Ryan White Cares Act.

Remembering Ryan White

Controversy Continues

As governor of Indiana, current Vice President Mike Pense, hesitated in his support of the Ryan White Cares Act unless the disproved homophobic “conversion therapy” was integral to the program:

Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
Remembering Ryan White

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

October 11, 2018: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that approximately $2.34 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grants were awarded to cities, counties, states, and local community-based organizations in fiscal year (FY) 2018.

This funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports a comprehensive system of HIV primary medical care, medication, and essential support services to more than half a million people living with HIV in the United States.

Remembering Ryan White
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Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Warner Bros Records released the soundtrack album to the movie Performance on 19 September 1970. The album featured Mick Jagger, Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, The Last Poets, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Merry Clayton.

“Turner’s Murder” by Merry Clayton Singers.

I was 20 and thought I knew it all. At least all I needed to know. Ok, most of it.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

So Sharp

I was learning that there were many more cool things than the half dozen or so things that I already knew were cool: important things like knowing how to tie a Windsor knot or to whistle using my two pointer fingers to curl the front of my tongue. Knowing several nicknames for marijuana (albeit, never using it).

When I saw Mick Jagger on the cover of the Performance soundtrack, I was confused. It was Mick, wasn’t it? Why is he dressed like a woman. He was dressed like a woman, wasn’t he?

Apparently there was one more thing to know was cool, yet not actually doing that thing.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Mick in the movies

Mick Jagger Performance

Performance was Mick Jagger’s first movie role. It was done in 1967 and by then those fab four friends of his had already done two movies: Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965).

Performance was neither of those things. Jagger was not going to play a musician chased by hundreds of fans for 87 minutes or a musician chased by dozens of villains for 92 minutes.

Jagger played a former rock star turned landlord, sort of.

Actor James Fox plays a gangster on the run and eventually hides out at the house of a Turner (Mick Jagger). There are already sexual shenanigans going on at Turners. Fox joins Turner and the three woman already there. Ménage de cinq.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Warner Brothers blinks

Mick Jagger Performance

Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg directed the film in 1967, but Warner Brothers, the studio, decided it could not release it. Reportedly, the wife of one Warner Brothers executive vomited while watching it.

Warner Brothers did finally release a version of the film in 1970. A highly edited version.

Over the years, various revised editions have been released. The last one, and most true to the original, was not released until 2007.

At its 1970 release, Roger Ebert said, “Performance” is a bizarre, disconnected attempt to link the inhabitants of two kinds of London underworlds: pop stars and gangsters. It isn’t altogether successful, largely because it tries too hard and doesn’t pace itself to let its effects sink in. But it does have a kind of frantic energy

Other reviews thought it unworthy of the word film.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Cult classic

Mick Jagger Performance

Gradually, though, it found itself viewed far more favorabley. From WikipediaIn 1995 Performance appeared at number 30 in a Time Out magazine “all-time greats” poll of critics and directors

In the September–October 2009 issue of Film Comment, Mick Jagger’s Turner was voted the best performance by a musician in a film.

In his 15-hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Mark Cousins says: “Performance was not only the greatest seventies film about identity, if any movie in the whole Story of Film should be compulsory viewing for film makers, maybe this is it.

Mick Jagger Performance 1970

Performance soundtrack

I was more into music than cinema and decided to buy the soundtrack. Powerfully odd is how I would have described it then and now as well.

I again saw the name Jack Nitzsche: the name I often saw on the back of albums, but had no idea who he actually was, Other album names were familiar, too: Randy Newman; Merry Clayton, Ry Cooder, Buffy Sainte-Marie, the Last Poets, and Mick Jagger, of course.

For me, I’ve learned several times that a soundtrack usually needs the movie. I learned why background music is just that.

Here are the tracks:

Side One:

  1. “Gone Dead Train” – Randy Newman
  2. “Performance”  (Merry Clayton)
  3. “Get Away”  (Ry Cooder)
  4. “Powis Square (Ry Cooder)
  5. “Rolls Royce and Acid”  (Jack Nitzsche)
  6. “Dyed, Dead, Red”  (Buffy Sainte-Marie)
  7. “Harry Flowers”  (Jack Nitzsche, Randy Newman)
 Side two:

  1. “Memo from Turner”  (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)
  2. “Hashishin” (Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ry Cooder)
  3. “Wake Up, Niggers” (The Last Poets)
  4. “Poor White Hound Dog” (Merry Clayton)
  5. “Natural Magic” (Jack Nitzsche)
  6. “Turner’s Murder” (Merry Clayton Singers)
Mick Jagger Performance 1970
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