DOES EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FALL UNDER THE SIXTH AMENDMENT?

Renee Lisbon

America has always found a way to bring up modern day racism and slavery despite the First and Thirteenth Amendment which was put in place under the Constitution of the United States. The modern perspective of the constitution is now more complex of understanding what our founding founders meant when creating the most important piece of document that helped to shape our government today. The policing, prison, and criminal system has proved repeatedly that minorities are not safe until there is legitimate reform within the systematic racism, protecting them and making sure that America is a safe place to live without getting persecuted. Within the policing, prison, and criminal system, there are specific rules and regulations that are upheld under the constitution, the Sixth Amendment. 

The Sixth Amendment was created and added to the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1971. The Amendment assured people that they are protected from a delay trial and have a choice of representing themselves in court or to have the court appoints them an attorney. Certain cases involving low income people, Black Americans, and people of color have failed due to a corrupt system and underfunded attorneys. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the importance of ensuring counsel regardless of economical and or social status. According to Justice Black, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, stated “in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for.” A favorable client for the consultant is not the goal of the Sixth Amendment, but one effective to ensure the client is getting the help and recourses in order to infer a fair trial.

The rights under the Sixth Amendment  reads “the right to a speedy trial, right to a public trial, right to an impartial jury, right to be informed of pending charges, right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, and right to compel favorable witnesses to testify at trial through the subpoena power of the judiciary.” The Sixth Amendment is a human right under the Constitution of the United States that protects and defends the people which is asserted to make sure that a decision is not solely based on the opposition.

On the contrary to opposition, the protectant has always been the victim in society’s eyes, but the court of law has been negligence to the defendant. The case of Gideon V. Wainwright was one of the landmark cases that led to the creation of the Sixth Amendment and one of the first cases to approach the criminal justice system in a sense where the system failed the race, gender, sexuality, and religion proportion. Although, the First Amendment protects people from the identity they are under, the government was and is built on systematic racism that leads to legal reasoning under the court of law.

After the ruling and creation of the Sixth Amendment, many people have been locked up without a fair or speedy trial, for example, the U.S. v. Tiagno case. 

Joseph Tiagno was arrested and charged in 2008 for running a marijuana operation. At his arraignment, he refused the plea deal offered by the court and requested his rights for a speedy trial. The court then rescheduled the set court date and did not mention the delay to Tiagno. For the next few years, he has been in pretrial detention going in and out of a status conferences constantly saying that he wants to preserve his rights to a speedy trial.

The judge kept rejecting the pressure of his mention of the Sixth Amendment. “No single, extraordinary factor caused the cumulative seven years of pretrial delay. Instead, the outcome was the result of countless small choices and neglects,” the Judge said. The judge saw this as stubbornness and incompetence, so he ordered him to go under three separate competency exams. Through May 8, 2015, Tiagno was convicted by a jury and on November 15, 2017, he was released. The rights of accused have been stated under the Sixth Amendment where specifications were set. “Application and Scope” factor in and incorporates the speedy trial rights that the Sixth Amendment is “activated only when a criminal prosecution has begun and extends only to those persons who have been ‘accused’ in the course of that prosecution.”However, those rights violated to Tiagno. The Constitution of the United States and the court of law failed him. What he had to go through was unnecessary and appalling. It was Tiagno’s constitutional right to bring up the Sixth Amendment, but it was because of that, the consequences were arising. It Is no surprise that seven years have been stolen from his life since “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains” according to the New York Times. However, with Tiagno standing up for his rights, he not only refused to be a statistic and give into a corrupt system, but also used his voice to dismantle and expose the treatment that the criminal justice and the court of law put him through. 

Unfortunately, citizens of the United States are stuck in different classes to legally represent themselves. This can lead to injustice and discrimination, but it is also critical and necessary to recognize who and what each individual identity is. The inadequately of the criminal justice system is solely based on the reason why we have racism, discrimination, and relying and celebrating on private corporations that creates tremendous amount of harm of criminal, financial, and physical activity. When talking about how great the policing, criminal, and prison system, we also have to hold those same systems accountable for their abuse of power. America is not just about having patriotic and nationalistic ideas, though those acts can be harmful, but it is also about having differences and individuality that make America safe and accepting. As long as the government strictly reforms and upholds the constitution that protects the citizens of the United States and with the Sixth Amendment in place, then there shall be peace in both ends. 

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