How is this statement from To Kill a Mockingbird relevant today?Atticus' summation states that "there is one institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockerfeller, the stupid man the equal of...

How is this statement from To Kill a Mockingbird relevant today?

Atticus' summation states that "there is one institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockerfeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein.. That institution is the court."

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees every legal citizen of the country the right to a speedy and public trial,the right to an impartial jury, the right to counsel, and the right to be informed of the accusations, among other points.  Theoretically, what Atticus Finch has said to the public and to the jury in the courtroom of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s yet holds true today.

However, just as Tom did not have an impartial jury, so, too, do some people not receive a trial with an impartial jury. And, critical to the outcome of many trials is the type of counsel that a defendent has.  Certainly, a public defender will not perform as well in the courtroom as a high profile attorney does.  The O.J. Simpson murder case (People v. Simpson) is a prime example of the difference that top attorneys can make for an individual. Los Angeles County prosecutors believed that they had a solid case as they had Simpson's DNA on the victims' bodies and clothing. But, the team of lawyers for Simpson, led by Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro, clever and talented lawyers, were able to convince a jury that there was reasonable doubt regarding the DNA evidence because blood sample evidence had allegedly been mishandled.

As Johnnie Cochran himself said years after Simpson's trial, "The color of justice is green."  With enough money, he implied, people can receive the type of "justice" which they seek.  Now, in the case of Tom Robinson, he had no money, but his public defender was Atticus Finch.  However, Tom did not have Civil Rights legislation working for him, so his chances for a fair trial, while theoretically the same as for a white man, brought him no justice.  

So, while the Sixth Amendment does yet exist and hold as true in 2011 as it did in 1930, there are other factors today just as there were then in acquiring a truly fair and just trial. 

snowgirl54's profile pic

snowgirl54 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

"there is one institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal on an Einstein…That institution is…the court" . Discuss the relevance of this statement today.

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