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W. Fred Turner
Born April 17, 1922 (1922-04-17)
Millville, Florida
Died November 23, 2003 (2003-11-24)
Panama City, Florida
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Florida
Known for His successful criminal defense of Clarence Earl Gideon
Spouse(s) Helen Turner

W. Fred Turner (April 17, 1922 – November 23, 2003) was an American attorney. He successfully defended Clarence Earl Gideon in his retrial after the Gideon v. Wainwright case overturned his conviction. The story behind this case was told in Anthony Lewis's 1964 book Gideon's Trumpet.[1] Discussion of Turner's role is in the Epilogue, pages 234-250. [2]

Turner was born in Millville, Florida, now part of Panama City. He joined the Army Air Corps after high school and was a supply officer in the 308th Bombardment Group during World War II. He rose to the rank of captain before leaving for the University of Florida. He graduated in 1948 and returned to Bay County, Florida to practice law.

Gideon's case[edit]

Clarence Earl Gideon was a drifter convicted of petty theft from a pool hall; at the trial he was denied a lawyer. His appeal to the Supreme Court was accepted, and the decision ordered that lawyers be provided in all criminal cases. Gideon's conviction was not overturned, but he was to be tried again.

Turner was Gideon's lawyer in this second trial. By destroying the credibility of the prosecution's key witness through exposing contradictions with other eyewitnesses and the witness's self-admittedly false statements (such as about his prior criminal record), Turner won an acquittal for Gideon.

Turner and Gideon[edit]

Gideon chose Turner to be his lawyer for his second trial. The retrial took place on August 5, 1963, five months after the Supreme Court ruling. Turner, during the trial, picked apart the testimony of eyewitness Henry Cook. The attorney in his opening and closing statements suggested the idea that Cook likely had been a lookout for a group of young men who broke in to steal beer, then grabbed the coins while they were at it. Turner also got an important statement from the cab driver who took Gideon from Bay Harbor, Florida to a bar in Panama City, Florida: Gideon was carrying neither wine, beer nor Coke when he picked him up, even though Cook testified that he watched Gideon walk from the pool hall to the phone, then wait for a cab.

The jury acquitted Gideon after a mere one hour of deliberation.

After Gideon[edit]

Turner worked as a private attorney until 1979, when he was elected to a circuit judge seat. At age 70, he retired from the bench in 1991. His wife Helen died in 1997. Turner died at age 81 at his home in Panama City, Florida.


  1. ^ Anthony Lewis, Gideon's Trumpet, 1964 (ISBN 0-67972312-9 (pbk.))
  2. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (November 26, 2003). "W. Fred Turner, 81; Defended Indigent in Key Trial - New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Fred_Turner — Please support Wikipedia.
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4 news items

The News Herald
Sun, 08 Mar 2015 10:46:16 -0700

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series on Clarence Earl Gideon who brought about the landmark ruling of an accused felon's right to counsel in Florida. At Gideon's first trial, which took place on August 4, 1961, a frail, graying ...
The News Herald
Sat, 16 Mar 2013 21:21:49 -0700

Walter B. Smith stands with a historical marker in front of the courthouse on Fourth Street in Panama City. The marker describes the Gideon vs. Wainwright case and how it became what some call a “landmark case” in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yahoo! Contributors Network
Sun, 18 Mar 2012 02:56:15 -0700

At retrial he was represented by W. Fred Turner, who hammered away at the eyewitness's testimony. After an hour's deliberation, the jury acquitted Gideon. What can we learn from Gideon's experience? First, don't give up; be persistent. Second, under ...
Tin tức 24h
Wed, 11 Jun 2014 13:59:53 -0700

Gideon chọn luật sư W. Fred Turner, 41 tuổi, làm luật sư cho mình trong phiên tòa này. Phiên tòa diễn ra ngày 5/8/1963, năm tháng sau khi phán quyết của Tòa án Tối cao có hiệu lực. Turner đã dành nhiều ngày để chuẩn bị cho phiên tòa có tính chất quyết ...

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