Maxwell v Sheppard

By Maddie Hill

Background on Case

A supreme court trial violating the 6th amendment. A trial court conviction of second degree murder. Sam Sheppard killed his pregnant wife Marilyn. Sheppard challenged the verdict as product of an unfair trial,after about a decade in prison He alleged that the judge failed to protect him from the massive, widespread, and prejudicial and publicity that attended his prosecution.

Decision of the Court

Supreme Court

8-1 the court decided that Sheppard was given an unfair trial. Justice Clark said " While we cannot say that Sheppard was denied due to process by the judge's refusal to take precautions against the influence of pretrial publicity alone, the court's later rulings must be considered against the setting in which the trial held. In the light of this background, we believe that the arrangements made by the judge with the news media caused Sheppard to be deprived of that "judicial serenity and calm to which he was entitled.


Sheppard was thrown in jail for about a decade. He won the case to an unfair trial and got out of jail. A few weeks later he died from a liver complication. His son later sued the state of Ohio for unfair imprisonment for his father. He later lost the case and did not get compensation.
Sheppard Case Revisited

Why the supreme court?

The trial went to the supreme court because the case was served on the lower courts for his conviction of his wife's murder. The judge that gave him an unfair trial was on the higher levels of the court system but the supreme court got the high tension case.