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LAW (sheapard v. united states) - Case Study Example

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Major Charles A Shepard of the United States Army was convicted of murdering his wife Zenana Shepard at Fort Riley Kansas. Shepard was accused of murdering his wife by poisoning her with Bichloride of Mercury. The motive seemed to be that Major Shepard was in love with another woman and wanted to make to be with this woman…
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LAW CASE (sheapard v. united states)
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Shepard v. United s, 290 U.S. 96, 104 (1933). School Introduction Major Charles A Shepard of the United s Army was convicted of murdering his wife Zenana Shepard at Fort Riley Kansas. Shepard was accused of murdering his wife by poisoning her with Bichloride of Mercury. The motive seemed to be that Major Shepard was in love with another woman and wanted to make to be with this woman. Major Shepard was sentenced to imprisonment for life without capital punishment. The initial judgment was declared through the United States District Court and affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit. Shepard claims his wife's demise was that of suicide.
Writ of Certiorari
In 1933 Major Shepard files a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. A Writ of Certiorari is a document in which the losing party files with the Supreme Court asking them to review the case from a lower court (Techlaw Journal, 2008). This can be done when the petitioner is dissatisfied with the decisions of the lower courts including the US Court of Appeals. A Writ can be granted at the discretion of the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court being the highest Court in the Nation has the right to not accept the petition and there has to be some kind of compelling reason for acceptance. In Shepards Case the Writ of Certiorari was granted.
US Supreme Court Ruling
US Supreme Court Judge Cardozo reveals to the court that circumstantial evidence was used to prove to the jury the Major Shepard was guilty. According to the judge a conversation with Mrs. Shepards nurse Clara Brown, Mrs. Shepard asked the nurse to find her a bottle of whiskey. She then asked the nurse if there was enough left to prove the existence of poison. The nurse then states that the Mrs. Shepard accuses her husband of poisoning her.
The Judge then states "The admission of this declaration, if erroneous, was more than unsubstantial error. As to that the parties are agreed. The voice of the dead wife was heard in accusation of her husband, and the accusation was accepted as evidence of guilt. If the evidence was incompetent, the verdict may not stand (Sklansky, 2003). In the first trial, this conversation was dismissed as circumstantial, it was then reinstated and the petitioner claims this was used as proof of his guilt.
The conversation between Mrs. Shepard and the Nurse was on May 20th. Mrs. Shepard did not pass until June 15th. The conversation does not prove that all hope was lost and there was no hope for recovery. There were also testimonies by Mrs. Shepard's friends that she was weary of life and had intentions of ending it. The judgment was placed on hearsay, not substantial evidence (Sklansky, 2008). Nobody could really tell what state of mind Mrs. Shepard was in. The judgment was then reversed.
Impact of Evidence
"Hearsay" is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted (Cornell, 2008). This case was a direct correlation with the Hearsay Evidence rule listed in the Federal Rules of Evidence Article III. In this Article the statement consistent with the declarant's testimony and is offered to rebut an express or implied charge against the declarant of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive (Cornell, 2008). The nurse's testimony was declared Hearsay, then determining by the Supreme Court judge as dismissible.
Major Charles Shepard was accused and convicted by District and Appeals Court of murdering his wife by poison. He claims his wife committed suicide. Because of one persons testimony the case was reversed and redirected back to the District Court. This case purely demonstrates how Writ of Certiorari can "Hearsay" can ultimately lead to the truth or get the truth overturned. He was never proven innocent, just that the evidence presented was not substantial enough for Shepard to be prosecuted by a jury.

Cornell University Law School (2008). "Federal Rules of Evidence". Retrieved on
October 3, 2008 from
Sklansky, D. "Shepard vs. United States" Evidence, Commentary and Problems.
Retrieved on October 3, 2008 at
Techlaw Journal (2008). "Writ of Certiorari" Retrieved on October 3, 2008 at Read More
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