Evidence is evidence. That unremarkable observation is at the heart of the 7th Circuit's remarkable opinion in Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises in which it endeavors to simplify the evidence doctrines that "has complicated and sidetracked employment discrimination litigation for many years."
The case is a run-of-the-mill national origin discrimination case; the plaintiff claimed he was fired, because of his Mexican ethnicity. The district court, Judge John Darrah of the Northern District of Illinois, granted the employer summary judgment. One of the district judge's errors was the "effort to shoehorn all evidence into two 'methods,' and its insistence that either method be implemented by looking for a 'convincing mosaic,' detracted attention from the sole question that matters: Whether a reasonable juror could conclude that Ortiz would have kept his job if he had a different ethnicity, and everything else had stayed the same."
After reviewing and overruling a number of its own sloppily-written opinions that had added to the complications and observing the inefficacy of its efforts to get understood what an evidentiary mosaic is (a metaphor for evidence making a persuasive case), the 7th Circuit got to this point:
Evidence must be considered as a whole, rather than asking whether any particular piece of evidence proves the case by itself - or whether just the "direct" evidence does so, or the "indirect" evidence. Evidence is evidence. Relevant evidence must be considered and irrelevant evidence disregarded, but no evidence should be treated differently from other evidence because it can be labeled "direct" or "indirect."
Try the argument: "Judge, evidence is evidence." It's a good one, right.