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Citing Wikipedia in Judicial Decisions

Monday's New York Times has a very interesting article on courts use of Wikipedia.

More than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court thus far has never cited Wikipedia.)...

[According to] Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University Law School... : "The most critical fact is public acceptance, including the litigants," he said. "A judge should not use Wikipedia when the public is not prepared to accept it as authority."

For now, Professor Gillers said, Wikipedia is best used for "soft facts" that are not central to the reasoning of a decision. All of which leads to the question, if a fact isn't central to a judge's ruling, why include it?

"Because you want your opinion to be readable," said Professor Gillers. "You want to apply context. Judges will try to set the stage. There are background facts. You don't have to include them. They are not determinitive. But they help the reader appreciate the context."

Source: TVC Alert