The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

Witness and Counsel in Criminal Trials

The 6th Amendment Right to Witnesses and Counsel


The rights of the defendant that are enshrined in the second half of the 6th Amendment—to be confronted by adverse witnesses, to have a compulsory process to obtain witnesses for his defense, and to have the assistance of counsel—all had a rocky beginning in Anglo-American law. Even in the bad old days when these rights were being denied in practice, however, the best legal minds have always maintained that they are obvious preconditions for ensuring a fair and impartial trial. These rights give to a suspect the same opportunities to mount his defense that the prosecution is given to construct his accusation. These rights ensure that the state does not have its thumb on one side of the scales held by Lady Justice.