Wright v. Southwest Bank, No. 75-3475

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore GODBOLD, TJOFLAT, and HILL; GODBOLD
Citation554 F.2d 661
Parties15 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 739, 14 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 7654, 2 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 336 Lenda J. WRIGHT, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SOUTHWEST BANK, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 75-3475
Decision Date22 June 1977

Page 661

554 F.2d 661
15 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 739, 14 Empl. Prac.
Dec. P 7654,
2 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 336
Lenda J. WRIGHT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SOUTHWEST BANK, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 75-3475.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
June 22, 1977.

Page 662

Huey P. Mitchell, Fort Worth, Tex., for plaintiff-appellant.

Bruce W. McGee, Marshall Day, Fort Worth, Tex., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before GODBOLD, TJOFLAT, and HILL, Circuit Judges.

GODBOLD, Circuit Judge:

The appellant, Lenda Wright, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., alleging that because of her race she was discharged from employment with the defendant Southwest Bank. The trial court, sitting without a jury, entered findings of fact and concluded that the bank did not racially discriminate against Wright when it fired her. The judgment must be vacated and the cause remanded because the court relied on incompetent evidence.

As the trial of the case drew to a close on April 10, 1975 the trial court requested that the defendant submit additional information comparing the plaintiff's tardy and absence record with those of other bank employees, and told plaintiff's attorney that he would be given an opportunity to refute evidence so submitted. The additional information was mailed to the court some three weeks later on May 1. The evidence, denominated Defendant's Exs. 39, 40 and 41, consisted of summaries of the tardy and absence records of 14 employees, including the plaintiff. 1 Plaintiff notified the court of her objections to this evidence by letter dated May 2. 2 Despite plaintiff's protestations

Page 663

the court considered this evidence, referred to it in its memorandum opinion, and rendered judgment for defendant on July 15.

The next entry in the record is on September 19, when a hearing was conducted on plaintiff's motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis. The court then stated:

Now I want the record to be clear that this Court in no way took into consideration, in arriving at its verdict, any factual information of any kind that was not already in the record, or that had not been put in the record during the course of the trial.

But, except for the late filed evidence, we can find no detailed data in the record concerning the tardiness of the 13 employees other than plaintiff. 3 Plaintiff made timely objection to the late filed evidence. 4 The ex parte admission of Exs. 39, 40 and 41 and the trial court's reliance thereon was reversible error.

A trial judge sitting without jury is entitled to great latitude concerning the admission or exclusion of evidence, but it is error to accept evidence ex parte because it is inherently unfair to allow one party to put evidence before the court without allowing his opponent the opportunity to test its validity. 5

Admission of the evidence was not harmless error. See Thompson v. Carley, 140 F.2d 656 at 660 (CA8, 1944); 7 Moore's Federal Practice P 61.07(3), at 61-29; F.R.E. 103(a)(1), (d); F.R.Civ.P. 61; see also Hardware Mutual Ins. Co. of Minn. v. C. A. Snyder, Inc., 242 F.2d 64, 69 (CA3, 1957); McComb v. McCormack, 159 F.2d 219, 227 (CA5 1947); cf. II Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2885, at 282-83 (1973).

The trial court's reliance on the late filed evidence is readily apparent. In its memorandum opinion the court stated:

At the conclusion of the evidence, the Court requested the...

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22 practice notes
  • LaFleur v. Wallace State Community College, Civil Action No. 94-D-747-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 18 Junio 1996
    ...the admission or exclusion of evidence." Goodman v. Highlands Ins. Co., 607 F.2d 665, 668 (5th Cir.1979) (citing Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661 (5th Cir. 1977)). See also Lee v. Russell County Bd. of Educ., 684 F.2d 769, 776 n. 5 (11th Cir. 1982) (stating that the court has "broad d......
  • Sandoval v. Hagan, No. Civ.A. 96-D-1875-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 1 Enero 1999
    ...the admission or exclusion of evidence." Goodman v. Highlands Ins. Co., 607 F.2d 665, 668 (5th Cir.1979) (citing Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661 (5th Cir. 1977));6 see also Lee v. Russell County Bd. of Educ., 684 F.2d 769, 776 n. 5 (11th Cir.1982) (stating that the court has "broad d......
  • U.S. v. Juvenile Male, No. 07-50107.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 26 Enero 2010
    ...record but with the confession excluded, R.P. is a juvenile delinquent as to Counts Two, Four, and Six. See Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661, 664(5th Cir.1977) (vacating the judgment of the district court where it relied on inadmissible evidence, and remanding to permit it to correct ......
  • Ala. State Conference of N.A. for Advancement of Colored People v. Merrill, CASE NO. 2:16-CV-731-WKW [WO]
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 5 Febrero 2020
    ...judge sitting without jury is entitled to great latitude concerning the admission or exclusion of evidence." Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661, 663 (5th Cir. 1977).6V. DISCUSSION The discussion is separated into two parts. Part V.A. addresses Plaintiffs' § 2 claim of vote dilution. Par......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • LaFleur v. Wallace State Community College, Civil Action No. 94-D-747-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 18 Junio 1996
    ...the admission or exclusion of evidence." Goodman v. Highlands Ins. Co., 607 F.2d 665, 668 (5th Cir.1979) (citing Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661 (5th Cir. 1977)). See also Lee v. Russell County Bd. of Educ., 684 F.2d 769, 776 n. 5 (11th Cir. 1982) (stating that the court has "broad d......
  • Ala. State Conference of N.A. for Advancement of Colored People v. Merrill, CASE NO. 2:16-CV-731-WKW [WO]
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 5 Febrero 2020
    ...judge sitting without jury is entitled to great latitude concerning the admission or exclusion of evidence." Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661, 663 (5th Cir. 1977).6V. DISCUSSION The discussion is separated into two parts. Part V.A. addresses Plaintiffs' § 2 claim of vote dilution. Par......
  • Sandoval v. Hagan, No. Civ.A. 96-D-1875-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 1 Enero 1999
    ...the admission or exclusion of evidence." Goodman v. Highlands Ins. Co., 607 F.2d 665, 668 (5th Cir.1979) (citing Wright v. Southwest Bank, 554 F.2d 661 (5th Cir. 1977));6 see also Lee v. Russell County Bd. of Educ., 684 F.2d 769, 776 n. 5 (11th Cir.1982) (stating that the court has "broad d......
  • U.S. v. Juvenile Male, No. 07-50107.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 12 Junio 2008
    ...with the confession excluded, R.P. is a 528 F.3d 1165 juvenile delinquent as to Counts Two, Four, and Six. See Wright v. Southwest Bank. 554 F.2d 661, 664 (5th Cir.1977) (vacating the judgment of the district court where it relied on inadmissible evidence, and remanding to permit it to corr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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