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Judicial Notice

Judicial Notice

The December 2014 issue of Los Angeles Lawyer discussed how to use the judicial notice to overcome evidence hurdles in litigation.

Federal and most state evidence codes allow for judicial notice of facts not reasonably subject to dispute and capable of immediate and accurate determination by resort to sources of reasonably indisputable accuracy.

Judicial notice may be a substitute for proof to get documents into evidence or use in a brief without having to obtain discovery or provide an expert witness declaration.

In California, judicial notice is often used to take notice of documents filed in courts, and the meaning of legal definitions.  While courts take judicial notice of public records, they do not take notice of the truth of matters stated therein. (Love v. Wolf (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 378, 403.)

Some documents that do not seem to be in dispute still need to be proven.  For instance, California law does not allow for the taking of judicial notice of the contents of a government website. Simply because information is on the Internet does not mean that it is not reasonably subject to dispute.  (Jolley v. Chase Home Finance, LLC (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 872, 889.)

A party cannot ask a court to improperly take judicial notice of the contents of web pages, interpret the meaning, and derive factual and legal conclusions from such contents.  California law does not allow for the taking of judicial notice of the contents of a website, where such contents are hearsay and not self-authenticating.

In federal court, a request for judicial notice is pursuant to Rule of 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.  The moving party bears the burden of persuading the court that judicial notice is proper.  Usually an attorney attaches a declaration on how the information for judicial notice was obtained, why the information is material in the case, and attaches the documents as exhibits to the judicial notice request.

Judicial notice helps get documents into the court record and establishes authenticity. Once documents are admitted, the judicial notice is limited to facts, not documents themselves.

An opposing party may ask the court to not grant judicial notice because of hearsay, lack of personal knowledge, or other evidence objections.

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