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The Supreme Court has given extensive consideration to the rights of indigent persons on appeal. In Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U. S. 12 (1956), the first of the pertinent cases, the Court had before it an Illinois rule allowing a convicted criminal defendant to present claims of trial error to the Supreme Court of Illinois only if he procured a transcript of the testimony adduced at his trial. See 351 U.S. at 351 U. S. 13 n.2. No exception was made for the indigent defendant, and thus one who was unable to pay the cost of obtaining such a transcript was precluded from obtaining appellate review of asserted trial err. Mr. Justice Frankfurter, who cast the deciding vote, said in his concurring opinion: '. . . Illinois has decreed that only defendants who can afford to pay for the stenographic minutes of a trial may have trial errors reviewed on appeal by the Illinois Supreme Court.' Id. at 22. The Court in Griffin held that this discrimination violated the Fourteenth Amendment.


Succeeding cases invalidated similar financial barriers to the appellate process, at the same time reaffirming the traditional principle that a State is not ...

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