Should the State Ensure That An Individual Gets a Fair Opportunity to Present His Defense In a Criminal Proceeding Against Him ?
In Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), 470 U.S. 68, 77, 105 S. Ct. 1087, 84 L. Ed. 2d 53, the United States Supreme Court observed:
"When a State brings its judicial power to bear on an indigent defendant in a criminal proceeding, it must take steps to assure that the defendant has a fair opportunity to present his defense.
This elementary principle, grounded in significant part on the Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee of fundamental fairness, derives from the belief that justice cannot be equal where, simply as a result of his poverty, a defendant is denied the opportunity to participate meaningfully in a judicial proceeding in which his liberty is at stake."
That court when on to state, "mere access to the courthouse doors does not by itself assure a proper functioning of the adversary process, and a criminal trial is fundamentally unfair if the State proceeds against an indigent defendant without making certain that he has access to the raw materials integral to the building of an effective defense." 9 Id. at 77.