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Sheppard v. Maxwell

United States Supreme Court
384 U.S. 333 (1966)


Sam Sheppard (defendant) was suspected of murdering his pregnant wife. Almost immediately, the prosecutor complained to the press that Sheppard was not cooperating with the investigation. The ongoing investigation was highly publicized, and both Sheppard and the prosecution made statements to the media. Police and the prosecution shared incriminating evidence with the press that was never presented at trial. After arrest, Sheppard was not given time to get a lawyer before arraignment. A grand jury returned an indictment, and trial began two weeks before election for the prosecutor and trial judge. Members of the press took over the courthouse. Jurors, witnesses, and actors in the case were routinely photographed and interviewed throughout the trial. Sheppard was convicted of second-degree murder. Sheppard petitioned for habeas corpus on the grounds that he was denied a fair trial due to the prejudice to jurors caused by pretrial publicity.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)

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