The Warren Court (1953–69)

Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Rights

What did the Warren Court rule in the case of Sam Sheppard?

Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted in state court of murdering his pregnant wife in their suburban home near Cleveland, Ohio. He later sought federal habeas corpus review of his conviction, alleging that his Sixth Amendment rights to an impartial jury and fair trial were violated because the trial judge failed to take any measures to prevent prejudicial publicity that affected the trial. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Sheppard’s conviction in Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966), writing that “bedlam reigned at the courthouse during the trial and newsmen took over practically the entire courtroom, hounding most of the participants in the trial, especially Sheppard.” The Court also noted that the jurors were bombarded by the press, having their names and photographs published. The Court said that trial judges should consider sequestering a jury to protect it from massive pretrial coverage of a high profile case.


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