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Scott v. Illinois

An Open-and-shut Case?

Aubrey Scott was found guilty of shoplifting merchandise with a value of greater than $50, a misdemeanor. The verdict was announced during a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, at which he was not provided with free legal counsel by the state of Illinois. Under Illinois state law he faced a sentence of up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both for his conviction. Scott was merely fined $50. Despite the relative lightness of his sentence Scott appealed his case to the Illinois Intermediate Appellate Court, which upheld the circuit court ruling. He then took his case to the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court holdings in the case, stating that the legal precedent set in Argersinger v. Hamlin did not apply to this case since Scott did not receive a sentence of imprisonment for his crime. Scott disagreed with this position, and appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the matter on 4 December 1978.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Scott v. Illinois - Significance, An Open-and-shut Case?, Legal Precedents, Interpreting Argersinger, Impact