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Bute v. Illinois


The Supreme Court confirmed that state courts were not bound to follow federal court criminal procedure. Provisions of the Tenth Amendment gave states great latitude in the exercise of jurisdiction over judicial procedure undertaken in state courts. Unlike federal courts, which had to assign legal counsel for defendants who did not have an attorney, state courts were under no such obligation so long as the state's judicial protocol provided for appointment of counsel if specifically requested by a defendant. The Court also made clear that states were not obliged to assign counsel automatically; neither were they obligated to inform the accused of any right to request counsel if the accused committed a noncapital crime. Thus, for the 15 years before this ruling was struck down by Gideon v. Wainwright, the decision in Bute v. Illinois established that appointment of an attorney for the accused was not necessarily a fundamental right for defendants in state courts.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Bute v. Illinois - Significance, Minority Opinion, Impact, Self Representation