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What Is a Judicial Notice?

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  • Written By: Nick Doniger
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2014
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Attorneys and judges often undergo a great deal of deliberation in determining what types of evidence may be admissible for court trials. When a court takes judicial notice, it deems certain facts and laws as generally irrefutable and conclusive. This law of evidence allows trials to be conducted with haste, as it relieves the burden of proof from whichever party requests such notice for trial. Without this capability, the opposing party may hold up the trial process by debating evidence that need not be debated.

Judicial notice often applies to facts perceived as common knowledge within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. It also applies to any information that may be easily verified in an encyclopedia, dictionary, or reference book. Anything that can be verified by an expert source may also be used.

For example, certain scientific facts may not be considered common knowledge among the general population. If considered reasonably indisputable by the scientific community, the court may take notice of these facts. The facts, laws, and other content of the court case at-hand may also be requested for judicial notice, but any information that stems from other court cases is not admissible.

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Frequently, notice is requested before a trial. One party presents its facts to the opposing party and provides any necessary documentation to support such information. The judge allows both parties to be heard before notice is officially taken, and the jury is then instructed to take such evidence as fact. Occasionally, an attorney, prosecuting party, or defendant cannot anticipate what evidence they may wish to enter in court until the trial is already under way. In this case, a request for judicial notice may be supplied to the judge at an early stage of the trial. Notice may also be taken at the discretion of the court itself; it does not always require a request from one party or the other.

Criminal cases and civil cases do have slightly different standards for taking judicial notice. In criminal cases, the evidence and facts presented are presumed to be true, yet the opposing party is permitted to enter refuting evidence at its discretion. As such an allowance may potentially hinder the speed of a trial, this is not permitted in civil cases. To the contrary, judicial notice is considered totally conclusive and factual in a civil case. Once granted, it may not be contradicted by any evidence from the opposing party.

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TreeMan
Post 4

I like how the issue of judicial notice has changed throughout history. I know in the 1800's there were scientific studies done, and I say that in a loose way, that said that women and blacks were incompetent to testify against white males simply due to the fact that science had established that blacks and women were inferior to white males.

This type of quackery carried over into the twentieth century as many pseudo sciences were accepted as fact by the courts and used as facts in cases. It was further established down the line the flaws in all this scientific logic and showed how biased the courts could be to people.

Nowadays, things like this do not happen and this type of discrimination does not occur, at least in this way, by the courts. I just find it interesting that the way society is at a time can affect the judicial process taken by the courts and carry over all the biases and discriminatory acts and beliefs.

stl156
Post 3

I have a question as far as judicial notices go. Do judicial notices use precedent that has been established throughout history concerning what is fact in cases or do the individual courts on a trial by trial basis re-establish these facts that are relevant to each individual case?

I would think that the established facts that have occurred over the years in a court room would be carried over to other cases and be allowed to be used in other future cases.

I do not know much about the law, but something like this would seem like it would be petty and hold up the trial process itself, but I know how the courts see each trial and case as unique in its own.

cardsfan27
Post 2

@titans62 - Right you are. Everyone knows how ridiculous it is in everyday life to deal with things that are open to interpretation and really have no bearing on the issue at hand and the courts can be the same way.

That is why the courts, where everything presented is scrutinized to the highest degree, keep this process in to simply establish facts that are irrefutable and eliminate the opportunity for someone to simply hold up the trial in order to question certain aspects of the case.

By establishing a judicial notice on facts for the court, the court is able to make sure that the trial sticks to the issue and makes sure that it will not deviate from the path the trial goes.

titans62
Post 1

By establishing what facts are relevant and not considered heresy and conjecture the trial process can be sped up to the point that the case is not held up for years on little technicalities that would really have no meaning on the trial and would do nothing but hold up the trial process.

Basically, a judicial notice allows the courts to simply establish facts and go with what is determined the facts are for sure. If there is something that they cannot determine as being fact they simply throw that issue out of the court before the trial and this allows the process to go so much faster as it is so easy for a trial lawyer to hold up a case on little technicalities for years and years.

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