Tag Archives: judicial notice

No judicial notice for Wikipedia entry

Flores v. State, No. 2008 WL 4683960 (Tx. App. October 23, 2008)

Not surprisingly, a Texas appellate court has held that it should not take judicial notice of a Wikipedia article.

Defendant was tried and convicted for cocaine possession. He appealed his sentence, arguing the trial court improperly admitted two oral statements the defendant made while being interrogated. Defendant apparently objected to the method investigators used to interrogate him, because he asked the appellate court to take judicial notice of the Wikipedia entry for the John Reid technique.

Citing to a Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year, the court declined to treat Wikipedia as a “reliable website,” instead invoking the overworn observation that Wikipedia’s greatest strength (its open platform) is also its greatest weakness.

At least one other court has declined giving judicial notice to a Wikipedia entry. This past May, the defendant in the trademark case Cynergy Ergonomics, Inc. v. Ergonomic Partners, Inc., 2008 WL 2064967 (E.D. Mo. May 14, 2008) asked the court to take judicial notice of the Wikipedia article about DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man.

The Cynergy Ergonomics court looked to Fed. R. Evid. 201 which provides that a court may take judicial notice of a fact not in the record where it is “either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” While not expressly criticizing the reliability of Wikipedia, the court found that the entry did not meet the criteria for judicial notice.

Interrogation room photo courtesy Flickr user Vincent Tulio via this Creative Commons license. Vitruvian Man has been in the public domain for quite some time.