Issues of Evidence – Sheppard Murder Trial

Lesson Duration

Author: Kathy Vick-Martini with the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago/ The American Jury

Students read selected background material on the Sheppard murder case and discuss the assigned readings in class. Activities include analyzing a political cartoon and a primary source document, writing and delivering a closing statement, and developing a timeline of the various court decisions made in the Sheppard case. Students will explore Internet sites for additional information about the recent lawsuit filed against the State of Ohio by Sam Sheppard, Jr. and will use this information, in combination with the background material, to write an editorial discussing whether the American jury system “works”.


  • ┬áTo identify the basic structure and function of the dual court system
  • To determine the strengths and weaknesses of the jury system
  • To assess the effectiveness of the jury as an instrument of justice




"The American Jury: Bulwark of Democracy" is an on-line resource guide for teachers, students, and citizens devoted to explaining the American jury system and its role in American legal, social, and political life.