Friday, October 10, 2008

Courts Citing Wikipedia

Wikipedia has been cited almost 300 times in American judicial opinions as of September, 2008. Courts cite Wikipedia for a wide range of purposes. Some citations are merely mundane references to everyday facts well known by the general public. In other opinions Wikipedia is cited as a basis for the court’s reasoning or to support a conclusion about an adjudicative fact at issue in the case. In a notable recent case, Badasa, v. Mukasey, 2008 WL 3981817 (8th. Cir. 2008), The Eighth Circuit remanded a Board of Immigration Appeals decision because it upheld a lower court’s finding based on information obtained from Wikipedia.

What impact will all of these references to Wikipedia have on the law of evidence, judicial ethics, the judicial role in the common law adversarial system, the de-legalization of American law, and the future of stare decisis? I am currently working on a law review article that attempts to answer these questions. I hope to have it published in 2009.

In the meantime check out Diane Murley's In Defense of Wikipedia where she explores some good uses of Wikipedia for legal research.