Saunders v. Shaw,
244 U.S. 317 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Saunders v. Shaw, 244 U.S. 317 (1917)

Saunders v. Shaw

No. 472

Argued May 9, 1917

Decided June 4, 1917

244 U.S. 317


It is a violation of due process of law for a state supreme court to reverse a case and render judgment absolute against the party who succeeded in the trial court upon a proposition of fact which was ruled to be immaterial at the trial and concerning which he had therefore no occasion and no proper opportunity to introduce his evidence.

In a suit to enjoin the collection of a drainage tax, evidence offered by the plaintiff to prove that his land could not be benefited by the drainage improvement was ruled to be inadmissible upon defendant's objection, but was spread upon the record as carried to the state supreme court upon appeal from the judgment in defendant's favor. The latter court, after affirming the judgment, reversed it on rehearing and granted a permanent injunction against the tax upon finding from the answer and testimony before it that the land had not been and could not be benefited, and declined to consider defendant's application for further rehearing. Held that, in thus rendering judgment against the defendant without affording opportunity to introduce evidence upon the question of benefit, there was a violation of due process of law, contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment.

Upon the sustaining of his objection to evidence upon the ground that the point to which it is directed is immaterial, a party is under no obligation to offer evidence to rebut that which was offered by his opponent and ruled to be inadmissible.

A claim that a judgment of a state supreme court violates rights under the Fourteenth Amendment is not too late, though first made by the assignment of errors presented to its chief justice when the writ of error from this Court was granted, if the aggrieved party was under no duty to anticipate the state court's action before the judgment

Page 244 U. S. 318

was rendered, and was afforded no opportunity afterwards to present the claim for its consideration.

138 La. 917 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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