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Judicial notice

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Overview Edit

Judicial notice is a rule in the law of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it cannot be refuted. This is done upon the request of the party seeking to have the fact at issue determined by the court. Matters admitted under judicial notice are accepted without being formally introduced by a witness or other rule of evidence, and even if one party wishes to introduce evidence to the contrary.

The purpose of judicial notice is to save time and promote judicial economy by precluding the necessity of proving facts that cannot seriously be disputed and are either generally or universally known. Judicial notice cannot be used “to circumvent the rule against hearsay and thereby deprive a party of the right of cross-examination on a contested material issue of fact.” Because judicial notice may not be used to deprive a party of cross-examination regarding a contested fact, the doctrine also cannot be used to take notice of the ultimate legal issue in dispute.

Judicial notice must be based upon “sources whose accuracy cannot be reasonably questioned.”[1]

Judicial notice in the Federal Rules of Evidence Edit

In the United States, Article II of the Federal Rules of Evidence ("FRE") addresses judicial notice in federal courts], and this article is widely copied by state laws. FRE 201(b)) permit judges to take judicial notice of two categories of facts:

  1. Those that are "generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court" (e.g. locations of streets within the court's jurisdiction) or
  2. Those that are "capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned" (e.g. the day of the week on a certain date).[2]

The FRE also notes that judicial notice may be permissive or mandatory. If it is permissive, then the court may choose to take judicial notice of the fact proffered, or may reject the request and require the party to introduce evidence in support of the point. If it is mandatory, then the court must take judicial notice of the fact proffered. Although the FRE does not expand upon the kinds of facts that would fall into one category or another, court cases, however, have determined that courts must take mandatory judicial notice of federal public laws and treaties, state public laws, and official regulations of both federal and local government agencies.

References Edit

  1. Palisades Collection, LLC v. Graubard, 2009 WL 1025176, at *3 (N.J. Super. A.D. Apr. 17, 2009) (full-text).
  2. Rule 201.


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