Wikipedia and Other Unreliable Sources Attorneys Can Cite To
Wikipedia is an unreliable source. Or so says the Fourth Circuit.
If you happen to read our Fourth Circuit blog, you'd know that the court recently tossed a conviction due to a juror's use of Wikipedia. The panel just couldn't get behind the "open-access" site. But other appellate courts? They're all about Wikipedia.
Judge Richard Posner recently cited the crowdsourced encyclopedia when explaining that anal fissures are "no fun at all." This was only one of the court's 36 citations. And the Ninth Circuit? They've used the site 17 times since 2004.
These numbers got us thinking. What other unreliable sources can you cite and possibly get away with?
1. Urban Dictionary. Don't know what "finna" means? Head to the online source for slang and other vulgarities. Depending on the word or phrase, you can pick from multiple definitions. Just be sure to pick the one that best fits your case. (Bonus: The Sixth Circuit cited Urban Dictionary in 2007, and the Nevada Supreme Court did so in 2009.)
2. Snopes. If this mythbusting site says it's true, it must be. Trust me, it's where all the cool kids verify the urban legends. So the next time you offer up a fact for judicial notice, cite to Snopes. Its "accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." (Bonus: Though this blogger couldn't find any judicial citations, Sen. Jon Kyl has been known to refer constituents to the site.)
3. Twitter. If it's been retweeted twenty times -- or by a celebrity -- it's officially fact. Just remember to ignore the hashtag (#drunktweet) and Spike Lee. You don't want to sic a mob on an unsuspecting elderly couple. (Bonus: Tweets are totally allowed into evidence, even when they've been deleted.)
If you can think of any other unreliable sources, let us know. Especially if they've been used successfully or cited by a judge.
- The Supreme Court Spurns Wikipedia, But Federal Appeals Courts Cited It Nearly 100 Times in 5 Years (ABA Journal)
- Doing Legal, Political, and Historical Research on the Internet: Using Blog Forums, Open Source Dictionaries, and More (FindLaw's Writ)
- Law School Outlines in 2.0 : What Wiki Can Do For You (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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