Powell v. Alabama

U.S. Case Law

Legal Definition of Powell v. Alabama

287 U.S. 45 (1932), extended the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process of law to state courts. The first and most important of the so-called Scottsboro Cases (after the Alabama town in which they originated), the decision helped to clarify the rights of the accused in state criminal trials involving indigent defendants. Several black youths who were charged with raping two white women were convicted in a state court after receiving only a cursory defense by two poorly prepared state-appointed attorneys. The Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment required state trial judges to assign an individual attorney to each indigent defendant in a capital case and to otherwise ensure that a fair trial, including assistance of counsel, is provided in noncapital cases. This mandate was expanded in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), which provided that all indigent defendants charged with serious crimes (capital or noncapital) must be assigned counsel.

Comments on Powell v. Alabama

What made you want to look up Powell v. Alabama? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to spread over or through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!