23 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 557 (1988)
Gideon's Shelter: The Need to Reorganize a Right to Counsel for Indigent Defendants in Eviction Proceedings

handle is hein.journals/hcrcl23 and id is 567 raw text is: GIDEON'S SHELTER: THE NEED TO RECOGNIZE A
RIGHT TO COUNSEL FOR INDIGENT DEFENDANTS
IN EVICTION PROCEEDINGS
Andrew Scherer*
I have no illusions about law and courts or the
people who are involved in them. I have read the com-
plete history of the law ever since the Romans first
started writing them down and before of the laws of
religions. I believe that each era finds a improvement
in law each year brings something new for the benefit
of mankind. Maybe this will be one of those small steps
forward.
-letter from Clarence Earl Gideon to his attorney,
Abe Fortas, November 13, 1962.1
Introduction
The young, single mother of three tearfully described how
she had returned home to her South Bronx apartment to find
the City Marshal and two helpers packing her belongings in
cardboard boxes.2 Although she begged them            to stop, one of
the assistants told her that, because the landlord had obtained
* Coordinating Attorney in Housing Law, Community Action for Legal Services,
New York, New York. J.D., New York University, 1978; B.A., University of Pennsyl-
vania, 1972.
I would like to thank the following people for their helpful comments on drafts of
this article: Oscar Chase, Jill Hamburg, Roger Maldonado, Florence Roisman, Claudia
Slovinsky, Morton Stark, Renee Steinhagen, Ellen Yaroshefsky, and Frances Werner.
Special thanks also go to Alan Jenkins, the general editor of this piece, for his encour-
agement and help and to the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review staff and
board. I also gratefully acknowledge the substantial work of a loose alliance of lay
advocates and attorneys in New York City who have made winning a right to counsel
for low-income tenants faced with eviction a priority, and whose determination will, I
am convinced, make it a reality.
I A. Lewis, Gideon's Trumpet 78 (1964).
2 The following description is based on the author's experience of nearly a decade
as a housing advocate in New York City. While fictitious, it is highly representative of
the conditions under which eviction occurs around the country.

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