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Jacob, Bruce -- Interview by Victor Geminiani, 1993 Jul 09

Identifier: NEJL-009.050

Scope and Contents

Bruce Jacob argued the case of Gideon v. Wainwright on behalf of the State of Florida as a young Assistant Attorney General. In this oral history interview, Jacob recalls his extensive preparation for the case.


  • 1993 Jul 09


Conditions Governing Access

Video recording available upon request.

Biographical / Historical

Bruce Jacob began his career in 1960 as an assistant attorney general of the State of Florida. There he represented the respondent in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). He represented the State in 19 appeals before the Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal of Florida.

Upon leaving that office he engaged in the private practice of law in Bartow and Lakeland, Fla., in the firm of Holland, Bevis & Smith, now Holland & Knight.

After completing his LL.M. degree at Northwestern University, Professor Jacob joined the faculty of Emory University School of Law, where he established the Legal Assistance for Inmates Program (LAI Program) providing legal assistance to inmates of the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, GA. He was appointed by the Supreme Court as counsel for petitioner in Kaufman v. United States, 394 U.S. 217 (1969), and handled several appellate cases in federal courts, challenging prison rules and practices on constitutional grounds.

While at the Harvard Law School, he served as research associate in the Center for Criminal Justice, was the co-founder of the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP), and supervised Harvard law students in the defense of criminal cases and in the representation of indigents in civil matters in the Community Legal Assistance Office, later Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services, Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was a Harvard University owned and operated legal services office.

Professor Jacob subsequently served as professor and director of Clinical Programs, from 1971-78, at the Ohio State University College of Law, as dean and professor of the Mercer University School of Law from 1978-81 and as vice-president of Stetson University and dean of Stetson University College of Law from 1981-94.

He was a member of the Constitution Project's "Blue Ribbon Panel" on indigent defense in the United States. In 2009 the panel issued its report, entitled "Justice Denied" America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel."

In 2013 he was one of four persons presented with "Constitutional Champion" awards by the Constitution Project, in Washington, D.C. He received the 2013 "Champion of Indigent Defense Award" from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Also, in 2013 he received the Delano Stewart Award from the George Edgecomb Bar Association, Tampa, and the "Power 100 Award" from the organization, "On Being a Black Lawyer" of Washington, D.C.

His publications include: Memories of and Reflections about Gideon v. Wainwright, 33 Stetson L. Rev. 181 (2003).


44:35 minute(s)

28 page(s)

Language of Materials