As the 60th anniversary of the landmark Sam Sheppard proceedings approaches, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library has launched a publicly accessible website dedicated to the nationally known case. “The Sam Sheppard Case, 1954-2000,” located at engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/sheppard, contains documents and photographs from the criminal and civil litigation resulting from the murder of Marilyn Sheppard on July 4, 1954.
The events resulting in the 1954 conviction of Marilyn’s husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, still remain in the public eye and are widely embraced by popular culture. A 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case overturned the initial guilty verdict, and Sheppard was later acquitted during the retrial.
The documents collected and used by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office in a 2000 civil trial filed by Sheppard’s estate, seeking a declaration of innocence and acknowledgment of wrongful imprisonment, form the basis of the online collection. The 2000 trial included more than 600 exhibits, in addition to the testimony of 76 witnesses and 19 experts.
The website currently hosts transcripts from the 1954 and 1966 trials, original police reports, witness statements and crime scene photos, coroner’s files, letters from the public regarding the case, and post-trial motions and appeals. More materials will be added to the website on an ongoing basis, and on-site access to digitized copies of the entire Sheppard Collection, as well as the physical documents contained in the collection are expected to be available at the law library by early 2015.
Former Prosecutor Bill Mason donated the materials to the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2012, under an agreement designating the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library as the repository for all items related to the Sam Sheppard trials.
“It was in preparation for the wrongful imprisonment lawsuit that we amassed all of the evidence from the prior two criminal trials. It was a rare opportunity to forever preserve an important piece of legal history, and show how the advancements in forensic evidence play such an important role in our criminal justice system,” said former prosecutor Mason, at the time of the 2012 donation.