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Haddad v. Lockheed Cal. Corp. - 720 F.2d 1454 (9th Cir. 1983)

Rule:

When an appellate court ponders the probable effect of an error on a civil trial, it need only find that the jury's verdict is more probably than not untainted by the error. 

Facts:

Appellant Robert Haddad worked for appellee Lockheed California Corporation ("Lockheed") from early 1969 until his resignation in July 1979. Haddad claimed that while in Lockheed's employ he was subject to a variety of forms of disparate treatment—a treatment which was the product of discrimination on the basis of national origin and age. After filing a timely charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and receiving statutory notice of final action from the EEOC, Haddad filed a discrimination lawsuit against Lockheed in federal district court. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-5(f)(4) (1976), Haddad's claim of discrimination based on national origin was tried by the district court judge. Haddad's age discrimination claim was submitted to a jury. Both claims were decided in favor of Lockheed. Haddad appealed, arguing that the trial court should have excluded the testimony of his ex-wife as it was protected by the confidential marital communication privilege.

Issue:

Did the trial court err by not excluding testimony from Haddad's ex-wife's on the basis of the confidential marital communication privilege?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court of appeals affirmed the district court's judgment. The court ruled, inter alia, that Lockheed failed to overcome the presumption in favor of applying the confidential marital communication privilege, and therefore the district court should have excluded the ex-wife's testimony. However, the court ruled, since her testimony was cumulative of other evidence in the record and the record contained no evidence to the contrary, the court presumed that the improper admission of the ex-wife's had no effect on the district court's decision rejecting Haddad's national origin discrimination claim.

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