Trim v. ShepardAnnotate this Case
Cortez McClain, Walter Simon, and Anthony Gene Trim were tried by jury and convicted of several crimes in connection with an attempted robbery. At trial, there was a dispute about the qualification of a prospective juror, whose daughter previously had been prosecuted in the same county for an armed robbery. During voir dire, the prospective juror expressed her discomfort with serving on the jury, explaining that the same prosecuting attorney had been involved in her daughter’s case, and noting that her daughter had been represented in that case by the lawyer now representing Trim. The prosecuting attorney sought to have the prospective juror struck for cause, but McClain, Simon, and Trim wanted to keep her. Over their objections, the trial court excused the prospective juror. McClain, Simon, and Trim appealed, and each claimed that the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain his convictions. McClain alone asserted that the trial court erred when it excused the prospective juror for cause. Finding the evidence legally sufficient, the Court of Appeals affirmed Simon and Trim’s convictions. But as to McClain, the Court of Appeals reversed, reasoning that a trial court has discretion to excuse a prospective juror for cause only after “an adequate inquiry has been conducted,” and concluding that the inquiry into the impartiality of the prospective juror in question was inadequate. Simon and Trim then filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus, each asserting that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel on appeal because his lawyer failed to raise a claim of error about the juror. A habeas court granted Simon’s petition; a different habeas court denied Trim’s petition, and Trim appealed. Although Warden Stan Shepard urged the habeas court to deny Trim’s petition, the Warden informed the Supreme Court that he no longer disputed that Trim was entitled to habeas relief. Though the Supreme Court was not bound by the litigating position of the Warden, the Court found it had an obligation to decide for itself whether the judgment of the habeas court was legally sound. Finding that it was, the Court affirmed the denial of the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.