Document Type

Sheppard v. Maxwell, United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Civ. No. 6640


July 15, 1964

Case Title

Sheppard v. Maxwell, United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Civ. No. 6640


habeas corpus, due process, Judge Carl A. Weinman, publicity, change of venue, motion for continuance, impartiality of judge, evidentiary rulings, jury phone calls during deliberations, evidence regarding lie detector test


Once again, the Court repeats what was stated at the beginning of this decision, and that is that the guilt or innocence of petitioner was not before the Court. The Court has considered the question of whether or not petitioner received a fair trial and in regard to that question has found five separate violations of petitioner's constitutional rights:

1. Failure to grant a change of venue or a continuance in view of the newspaper publicity before trial

2. Inability of maintaining impartial jurors because of the publicity during trial

3. Failure of the trial judge to disqualify himself although there was uncertainty as to his impartiality

4. Improper introduction of lie detector test testimony

5. Unauthorized communications to the jury during their deliberations

Each of the aforementioned errors is by itself sufficient to require a determination that petitioner was not afforded a fair trial as required by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And when these errors are accumulated, the trial can only be viewed as a mockery of justice. For this reason, it is not necessary to consider the remainder of the 23 stipulated issues, which range from having significant merit to no merit at all.

In accordance with the foregoing decision, which shall constitute the findings of fact and conclusions of law in this proceeding, the Court having found that petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial, it is concluded that the judgment and sentence in pursuance to which respondent holds petitioner in custody is void.

Therefore, the respondent, E. L. Maxwell, Warden, shall release petitioner upon the filing of a bond in the sum of $10,000.00. Said bond shall be conditioned upon petitioner's appearance before the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County, should such an order be issued; he shall also remain subject to further order of this Court.

Should no further action be taken by the State of Ohio or the County of Cuyahoga within 60 days after the filing of this decision, petitioner's release shall be final and unconditional and the bond cancelled.

The opinion, 231 F. Supp. 37, can be viewed here.



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