The citation of Wikipedia in judicial opinions

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The Citation of Wikipedia in Judicial Opinions
Authors: Lee F. Peoples [edit item]
Citation: Yale Journal of Law & Technology 12 : . 2009.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: Define doi.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Added on initial load
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The Citation of Wikipedia in Judicial Opinions is a publication by Lee F. Peoples.


[edit] Abstract

Wikipedia has been cited in over four hundred American judicial opinions. Courts have taken judicial notice of Wikipedia content, based their reasoning on Wikipedia entries, and decided dispositive motions on the basis of Wikipedia content. The impermanent nature of Wikipedia entries and their questionable quality raises a number of unique concerns. To date, no law review article has comprehensively examined the citation of Wikipedia in judicial opinions or considered its long-range implications for American law.

This article reports the results of an exhaustive study examining every American judicial opinion that cites a Wikipedia entry. The article begins with a discussion of cases that cite Wikipedia for a significant aspect of the case before the court. The impact of these citations on litigants’ constitutional and procedural rights, the law of evidence, judicial ethics, and the judicial role in the common law adversarial system are explored. Part II discusses collateral references to Wikipedia entries. Part III proposes a set of best practices for when and how Wikipedia should be cited. Detailed statistics on the quality of Wikipedia entries cited in judicial opinions and the completeness and accuracy of citations to Wikipedia entries are provided. The article concludes with a discussion of the impact of Wikipedia citations in judicial opinions on the future of the law.

[edit] Research questions

"This article reports the results of an exhaustive study examining every American judicial opinion that cites a Wikipedia entry. The article begins with a discussion of cases that cite Wikipedia for a significant aspect of the case before the court. The impact of these citations on litigants' constitutional and procedural rights, the law of evidence, judicial ethics, and the judicial role in the common law adversarial system are explored."

Research details

Topics: Knowledge source for scholars and librarians [edit item]
Domains: Law [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: [edit item]
Research design: Statistical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Archival records [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: N/A [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Article, N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article, N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"The opinions examined in this article are evidence of the range of impact that a citation to Wikipedia can have on the case before the court, on future cases, and on the law as a whole. Some opinions reference Wikipedia for rhetorical flourishes or to define a non-essential term. But in other cases the reference to Wikipedia is used to support the court's reasoning, logic, or analysis. The most significant examples of the influence of Wikipedia include courts taking judicial notice of Wikipedia content and granting or denying summary judgment motions based in part on a Wikipdeia entry. Judges must exercise care when citing a Wikipedia entry because of the collaborative and constantly changing nature of its content. Courts should not take judicial notice of Wikipedia content. They should not rely upon a Wikipedia entry as the sole basis for their holding or reasoning or to demonstrate the existence or absence of a material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment. Wikipedia entries can be useful in some limited situations for defining slang terms and for getting a sense of a term's common usage. Judges must be careful when conducting research on Wikipedia to not violate the recently updated Model Code of Judicial Conduct prohibiting ex parte research into the facts of cases before them. Action should be taken to ensure that if courts cite Wikipedia they do so in a way that allows future researchers, lawyers, and judges to view the Wikipedia entry exactly as it appeared when the court accessed it. The Bluebook should add a specific explanation that requires any citation to a wiki to include the title of the page, a permanent link to the entry cited, not just the entry's generic URL, and the date and time the page was visited. This citation rule should also be enacted as a local court rule at the federal and state level. Law librarians and legal research and writing professors have a role to play in training future lawyers and judges to use and cite Wikipedia appropriately."

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "The citation of Wikipedia in judicial opinions"RDF feed
AbstractWikipedia has been cited in over four hundWikipedia has been cited in over four hundred American judicial opinions. Courts have taken judicial notice of Wikipedia content, based their reasoning on Wikipedia entries, and decided dispositive motions on the basis of Wikipedia content. The impermanent nature of Wikipedia entries and their questionable quality raises a number of unique concerns. To date, no law review article has comprehensively examined the citation of Wikipedia in judicial opinions or considered its long-range implications for American law. This article reports the results of an exhaustive study examining every American judicial opinion that cites a Wikipedia entry. The article begins with a discussion of cases that cite Wikipedia for a significant aspect of the case before the court. The impact of these citations on litigants’ constitutional and procedural rights, the law of evidence, judicial ethics, and the judicial role in the common law adversarial system are explored. Part II discusses collateral references to Wikipedia entries. Part III proposes a set of best practices for when and how Wikipedia should be cited. Detailed statistics on the quality of Wikipedia entries cited in judicial opinions and the completeness and accuracy of citations to Wikipedia entries are provided. The article concludes with a discussion of the impact of Wikipedia citations in judicial opinions on the future of the law.udicial opinions on the future of the law.
Added by wikilit teamAdded on initial load +
Collected data time dimensionN/A +
ConclusionThe opinions examined in this article are The opinions examined in this article are evidence of the range of impact that a citation to Wikipedia can have on the case before the court, on future cases,

and on the law as a whole. Some opinions reference Wikipedia for rhetorical flourishes or to define a non-essential term. But in other cases the reference to Wikipedia is used to support the court's reasoning, logic, or analysis. The most significant examples of the influence of Wikipedia include courts taking judicial notice of Wikipedia content and granting or denying summary judgment motions based in part on a Wikipdeia entry. Judges must exercise care when citing a Wikipedia entry because of the collaborative and constantly changing nature of its content. Courts should not take judicial notice of Wikipedia content. They should not rely upon a Wikipedia entry as the sole basis for their holding or reasoning or to demonstrate the existence or absence of a material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment. Wikipedia entries can be useful in some limited situations for defining slang terms and for getting a sense of a term's common usage. Judges must be careful when conducting research on Wikipedia to not violate the recently updated Model Code of Judicial Conduct prohibiting ex parte research into the facts of cases before them. Action should be taken to ensure that if courts cite Wikipedia they do so in a way that allows future researchers, lawyers, and judges to view the Wikipedia entry exactly as it appeared when the court accessed it. The Bluebook should add a specific explanation that requires any citation to a wiki to include

the title of the page, a permanent link to the entry cited, not just the entry's generic URL, and the date and time the page was visited. This citation rule should also be enacted as a local court rule at the federal and state level. Law librarians and legal research and writing professors have a role to play in training future lawyers and judges to use and cite Wikipedia appropriately.
s to use and cite Wikipedia appropriately.
Data sourceArchival records +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22The%2BCitation%2Bof%2BWikipedia%2Bin%2BJudicial%2BOpinions%22 +
Has authorLee F. Peoples +
Has domainLaw +
Has topicKnowledge source for scholars and librarians +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeJournal article +
Published inYale Journal of Law & Technology +
Research designStatistical analysis +
Research questionsThis article reports the results of an exhThis article reports the results of an exhaustive study examining every American judicial opinion that cites a Wikipedia entry. The article begins with a discussion of cases that cite Wikipedia for a significant aspect of the case before the court. The impact of these citations on litigants' constitutional and procedural rights, the law of evidence, judicial ethics, and the judicial role in the common law adversarial system are explored.ommon law adversarial system are explored.
Revid11,171 +
Theory typeAnalysis +
TitleThe Citation of Wikipedia in Judicial Opinions
Unit of analysisArticle + and N/A +
Urlhttp://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1272437 +
Volume12 +
Wikipedia coverageMain topic +
Wikipedia data extractionLive Wikipedia +
Wikipedia languageEnglish +
Wikipedia page typeArticle + and N/A +
Year2009 +