Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), granted defendants the right to counsel in felony cases. In Gideon, the Supreme Court held that the right of an indigent defendant in a criminal trial to have the assistance of counsel is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial, and that Gideon’s trial and conviction without the assistance of counsel violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, emerged the first public defender system in the nation.
Our country’s highest court has also upheld that it is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial, that an indigent person receive the assistance of counsel in juvenile delinquency proceedings, In re: Gault, and in misdemeanor cases, Argersinger v. Hamlin.
For many years, Anderson County and Oconee County provided indigent defense services through the use of defender corporations. In 2007, the South Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation creating a statewide public defender system. The Tenth Judicial Circuit is comprised of Anderson and Oconee Counties. Hervery B. O. Young was selected as the Circuit Public Defender in 2013.