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Palisades Collection, L.L.C. v. Graubard, 2009 WL 1025176 (N.J. Super. A.D. Apr. 17, 2009).
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
At trial, plaintiff’s attorney moved to admit into evidence
|“|| a print version of a page from the website of Wikipedia. . . . Plaintiff offered this to establish that Bank One Corporation was purchased by J.P. Morgan & Company in 2004. Against this backdrop, counsel represented to the trial judge that J.P. Morgan sold the accounts, (including defendant's account) to his client Palisades Acquisition.
Over defense counsel's objections, the trial court granted plaintiff's motion, admitting into evidence . . . the page from Wikipedia. In support of his ruling, the trial judge took judicial notice that "banks are frequently purchased." . . . [T]he judge also took judicial notice that "ultimately defendant's account landed at J.P. Morgan . . . [and] was assigned or sold to Palisades Assets."
After trial, the court entered judgment for Palisades and Graubard appealed.
Appellate Court Proceedings Edit
|“|| The trial court's acceptance of Wikipedia was contrary to the principle that judicial notice must be based upon "sources whose accuracy cannot be reasonably questioned." [New Jersey Rule of Evidence (b)(3)]. We come to this conclusion after reviewing Wikipedia's own self-assessment.
Wikipedia bills itself as the "online encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Anyone with an internet connection can create a Wikipedia account and change any entry in Wikipedia. In fact, Wikipedia warns readers that "[t]he content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields." Thus, it is entirely possible for a party in litigation to alter a Wikipedia article, print the article, and . . . offer it in court in support of any given position. Such a malleable source of information is inherently unreliable, and clearly not one "whose accuracy cannot be reasonably questioned."
The court held that 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.” However, as the appellate court noted, "judicial notice cannot be used to take notice of the ultimate legal issue in dispute.”